» VA

Northville, MI (Law Firm Newswire) September 16, 2016 – A new report has found the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) spent $20 million on costly artwork over a decade. The spending occurred amid a scandal in which thousands of veterans died waiting for health care at VA hospitals. Open The Books, a government spending watchdog group, collaborated with Cox Media to analyze VA expenditure on art for their facilities from 2004 to 2014. Among the costly purchases was a large courtyard featuring a sculpture priced at over $1 million for the Palo Alto VA facility. In addition, the report claimed the VA […]


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Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) August 31, 2016 – The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has admitted that around 24,000 veterans were improperly screened and given a traumatic brain injury (TBI) diagnosis by VA doctors deemed unqualified to conduct such examinations under departmental policy. As a result, some veterans diagnosed with TBI between 2007 and 2015 did not receive disability benefits. VA officials told Congress in July that the department is reviewing the cases concerning veterans who underwent incorrect exams and trying to settle their disability claims. Officials announced the VA sent letters offering re-examinations to the affected veterans. “It […]


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Northville, MI (Law Firm Newswire) August 29, 2016 – The Commission on Care has presented the White House with a report outlining a strategy for transforming the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care system. The panel conducted a two-year review of its current condition and future outlook. The 300-page report includes 18 recommendations on how the department can improve the quality of health care as well as veterans’ access to it. One key proposal involves creating a permanent nationwide system of public and private health networks that allow veterans to seek medical care from VA hospitals as well as […]


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Northville, MI (Law Firm Newswire) July 18, 2016 – U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Robert McDonald apologized for comparing the amount of time veterans wait to receive medical care at department hospitals to waiting in line for rides at Disney theme parks. In his original comments, McDonald claimed the government should be monitoring veterans’ satisfaction with the VA rather than appointment wait times as a measure of success. He said, “When you go to Disney, do they measure the number of hours you wait in line? Or what’s important? What’s important is what’s your satisfaction with the experience.” “Comparing veterans’ […]


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Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) July 13, 2016 – The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has rejected around 90 percent of benefits claims filed by veterans who participated in secret mustard gas tests during World War II. The VA received 1,213 disability claims related to the exposure from 792 veterans between 2005 and 2015. According to a yearlong Senate investigation, the agency denied 1,028 of those claims. Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri released the findings along with the Arla Harrell Act, a bill that expedites VA benefits for victims. She criticized the government for mistreating testing victims and failing to […]


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Northville, MI (Law Firm Newswire) July 11, 2016 – The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has accidentally declared thousands of veterans dead and stopped their benefits over the past five years. The issue was discussed in correspondence between the VA and U.S. Rep. David Jolly (R., Fla.) when he found that the same clerical error occurred 4,200 times between 2011 and 2015. The congressman received complaints from several constituents regarding cases of incorrect death notices of still-living veterans whose benefits payments were cancelled. The VA asserted the errors comprise under 1 percent of total benefits cancellations, according to recent […]


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Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) June 22, 2016 – The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in May announced its purchase of 20 ReWalk exoskeleton systems for a national clinical trial. The multicenter trial is the country’s first-ever study to evaluate the impact of daily exoskeleton use in an everyday setting. The first phase of the trial will be held in VA medical centers in Florida, California, Massachusetts, Texas and Virginia. It will consist of 160 eligible participants who will be enrolled later this year. The six medical centers have already received ReWalk systems for training purposes. “The ReWalk device has […]


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Northville, MI (Law Firm Newswire) June 14, 2016 – Lawmakers have announced the Veterans First Act in an effort to create a culture of accountability at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and improve services for veterans. The sweeping measure combines various legislation to make the VA more accountable by changing employment policies, making it easier to hire and fire senior executives, blocking bonuses for problem employees and allowing any VA employee accused of wrongdoing to be fired more quickly. The bill will also enhance whistleblower protection. “This legislation will help change the current corrosive culture at the VA by […]


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Northville, MI (Law Firm Newswire) June 7, 2016 – Senators have unanimously confirmed Michael Missal as the permanent top watchdog for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). President Barack Obama nominated the Washington lawyer to head the VA Inspector General’s office in October. However, Missal was not approved for the key position until after a confirmation process that lasted over six months. His nomination was stalled due to several unrelated VA concerns. “The search is finally over. A permanent inspector general to oversee the VA has long been overdue,” said Jim Fausone, a Michigan veterans attorney. “Hopefully Michael Missal will […]


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Northville, MI (Law Firm Newswire) May 13, 2016 – An Office of Inspector General (OIG) report has revealed the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has been systematically destroying documents related to veterans’ disability compensation claims. VA investigators performed spot checks at 10 veterans benefits offices across the nation. They went through around 438,000 documents that were put in bins for shredding at the regional offices. According to the report, staff were found to be destroying claims-related mail at six regional offices. There are a total of 56 VA regional offices. “The findings of the inspector general’s report should not […]


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Northville, MI (Law Firm Newswire) March 15, 2016 – The Department of Veterans Affairs has requested around $78.7 billion in discretionary funding as part of President Barack Obama’s proposed $4.1 trillion federal budget for 2017. The VA’s discretionary spending would receive a nearly 5 percent boost to tackle outstanding health care claims from veterans, among other objectives. According to the proposal unveiled on February 9, the spending plan also includes more than $102.5 billion for mandatory VA programs such as disability compensation. The budget has doubled since 2009 when Obama was sworn in. “The proposed budget increase provides an opportunity to […]


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Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) March 14, 2015 – A Florida Hospital Association survey has found that 95 percent of its member hospitals are waiting for around $134 million in outstanding payments from the Department of Veterans Affairs. The 30,000 outstanding claims are for medical services the state’s hospitals provided to veterans who faced long wait times at VA health care facilities or lived too far away from them. According to the association, around 6,000 of the unpaid claims have been delayed for over two years. In October 2015, VA Secretary Robert McDonald received a letter from 12 Florida Congress […]


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Northville, MI (Law Firm Newswire) March 8, 2016 – Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald unveiled a 12-point plan of breakthrough priorities for his department in 2016 before the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee in January. The list of goals included updating the VA website, modernizing hotlines, improving veterans’ health care access, reducing the disability claims backlogs, increasing employee training and tackling veteran homelessness. Four priorities focused on department needs while the other eight specifically served veterans. However, McDonald emphasized the ultimate outcome of all 12 aims would be to provide veterans with timely care and prompt benefits. “The VA […]


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Northville, MI (Law Firm Newswire) February 24, 2016 – Federal prosecutors ruled against pursuing criminal charges against two Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) officials who faced accusations of defrauding the agency for $400,000 and manipulating its hiring system for their own benefit. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia in December declined the VA inspector general’s request for a criminal investigation against Kimberly Graves and Diana Rubens. The Department of Justice said it “referred the matter to the VA for any administrative action that is deemed appropriate.” However, Florida Rep. Jeff Miller raised questions about why charges would […]


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Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) February 23, 2016 – The government is changing its rules about confirming veteran deaths after acknowledging that 115 veterans were wrongly declared dead over the past year and a half. Their benefit payments were terminated even though they were still alive. Under the new policy, the Department of Veterans Affairs will send a letter to the address of those veterans that officials think are deceased. A surviving family member will then have 30 days to confirm the death. The VA will only terminate benefit payments if they do not hear from the family or the […]


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Northville, MI (Law Firm Newswire) February 17, 2016 – A yearlong investigation has uncovered thousands of privacy violations at Department of Veterans Affairs-run medical facilities, clinics and benefit centers across the country. According to ProPublica’s analysis of VA data, over 10,000 breaches have occurred since 2011. The majority of privacy incidents were inadvertent, such as medical records left in waiting rooms or documents sent to the wrong individuals. However, a number of errors involved employees intentionally snooping or stealing veterans’ personal information. The highest number of privacy violations — at least 370 over the past five years — was recorded […]


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Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) January 18, 2016 – The approval rate for disability claims arising from Camp Lejeune-related illnesses has fallen by two-thirds since the Department of Veterans Affairs introduced a third-party process to review veterans’ medical files. Veterans advocacy groups have filed a Freedom of Information request for details about the identities and qualifications of the experts in the VA program. “Veterans could benefit from greater transparency on the VA’s part. The agency should make public basic information about its personnel and the process they use to evaluate claims,” said David Magann, a Florida-based veterans attorney. Almost a million […]


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Northville, MI (Law Firm Newswire) January 14, 2016 – The Department of Veterans Affairs announced new criteria on Dec. 1 to increase patient eligibility for the Veterans Choice Program. The change is expected to open the program to about 160,000 more veterans seeking health care at private hospitals and clinics closer to home. VA officials said staff have been granted more flexibility to evaluate eligibility. The changes are effective immediately. “The VA is taking a positive step toward consolidating care among different programs, increasing eligibility and improving its health care services after reports of long wait times at overwhelmed VA […]


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Northville, MI (Law Firm Newswire) December 30, 2015 – The Department of Veterans Affairs and the government are likely to fall short of their goal of eliminating veteran homelessness by the end of 2015. According to a report released on Nov. 19, the Department of Housing and Urban Development estimates there were nearly 48,000 homeless veterans across the United States as of Jan. 2015. The number marks a 4 percent drop from 2014, but a decline of more than 27,000 people since 2010. Officials said that missing the goal should not take away from the significant progress that has been […]


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Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) December 22, 2015 – Allison Hickey, undersecretary for benefits at the Department of Veterans Affairs, resigned on Oct. 16 after the department’s internal watchdog discovered flaws in the oversight of promotions involving senior executives. The VA Inspector General (IG) found that around 24 senior executives were promoted or given new positions within the department. However, many of their salary raises did not “consistently reflect changes in the positions’ scope of responsibility,” according to an IG statement. Hickey was facing a congressional inquiry into the accusations. Hickey stepped down despite the department’s 88 percent drop in […]


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