Oakland VA Official Defends Claims Management Ahead of Hearing
On Monday, the director of the Oakland Department of Veterans Affairs Regional Office defended her staff's actions after a VA Office of Inspector General audit found the office failed to process many informal claims, San Jose Mercury News reports.
The House Committee on Veterans' Affairs on Wednesday will hold a hearing to examine allegations of claims mismanagement at the Oakland VA office and a Philadelphia VA office (Emmons, San Jose Mercury News, 4/21).
Background on Audit
In February, a VA OIG audit found that the Oakland office stored thousands of informal claims -- some of which dated back to the mid-1990s -- in a filing cabinet without processing them.
Specifically, the audit said that 13,184 claims were uncovered in 2012, of which 2,155 still required "review or action." A special team was assigned to review and process the files, but employees last spring found a cart of 537 claims that still had not been processed after they were reviewed.
During a two-week probe of the Oakland office in July 2014, VA OIG found that a spreadsheet for the 537 unprocessed claims had been made, but there was no paper trail for the larger group of claims. Therefore, VA OIG could not verify that all claims had been processed because of "management's poor record-keeping practices," according to the audit.
The audit recommended that the Oakland VA office:
- Develop a plan for oversight of workers who process informal claims;
- Implement more training on claims processing and evaluate the effectiveness of such training; and
- Process the 537 claims (California Healthline, 2/19).
Details of Comments
On Monday, Regional Director Julianna Boor said that the claims found in the filing cabinet were not mishandled and were simply duplicates.
She said that the office had a problem with record-keeping, noting that there is no complete list of claims. However, she added that the office's process has since been streamlined into a digital system.
Boor said, "There's no indication that there was any mishandling. But we can't [disprove] any allegations because we don't have every document." She added that "[a] lot of progress has been made" to "addres[s] the problem" (San Jose Mercury News, 4/21).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.