Obama Tells Veterans Reform Will Not Change Their Health Benefits
Speaking at the Veterans of Foreign Wars' annual convention on Monday, President Obama told attendees that major health reform would not change how veterans get their medical services, the AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports (AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution , 8/17).
Also on Monday, U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki spoke at a town-hall meeting with veterans in Philadelphia and likewise said medical benefits for veterans would not change if Congress approves an overhaul.
He added that VA's budget is being increased by 15% in 2010 and pledged to modernize the department for the 21st century (AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution , 8/17).
Tackling Delays in Benefits
On Monday, Obama also said that rank-and-file employees with the Department of Veterans Affairs Veterans Benefits Administration will be asked to suggest ways to reduce the time and effort it takes to process veterans' disability benefits, the Washington Post reports.
Employees will make the suggestions through a Web-based computer program.
Speaking at the Veterans of Foreign Wars' annual convention, Obama said that the goal is to "cut those backlogs, slash those wait times and deliver your benefits sooner."
According to the Post, the number of unresolved disability claims has increased greatly in 2009 and has elicited protests from veterans groups and lawmakers. In June, the American Legion said the number of unresolved claims was approaching one million, but VA officials disputed the figure.Department officials -- including Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra, Chief Performance Officer Jeffrey Zients and Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra -- will pick the best suggestions and implement them by December (O'Keefe, Washington Post, 8/18). 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.