Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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November 29, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

KEEPING UP WITH THE VA....The Department of Veterans Affairs, already under pressure before the Iraq war, is struggling to keep up with demand for disability claims. The waiting time to process new claims is now six months and rising.

Blue Girl's solution: provisionally approve all claims by default (90% are approved eventually) and then cut them off only if they're later disapproved. Bonus feature: this might give the VA an incentive to speed up its claim processing. It's worth a thought.

Kevin Drum 12:18 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (22)

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Comments

Blue Girl's solution seems a bit simplistic. It would increase the number of claims so that people could get money. You couldn't take the money back retroactively, because it would bankrupt some injured vets who failed to meet some criterion.

Posted by: reino on November 29, 2007 at 12:27 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks Kevin! But Linda Bilmes of Harvard gets the credit. I just think her idea is the best one I've heard so far.

Reino, they go after bonuses when the wounded can't complete tours (and have for years, it wasn't news to most of us when the blogosphere got excited a couple of weeks ago.)

Another component of Bilmes' plan would be to change the disability ratings from 10% increments to four classifications.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on November 29, 2007 at 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

Right on reino, if only so many of those with shrapnel wounds covering their bodies, or those with head trauma, would cease and desist in trying to claim that these were "service connected". Probably just a lot of walking wounded who were inducted in order to keep recruitment figures up. Yeah, reino, get on those malcontents who failed to dot the eyes and cross the tees.

Excellent idea BGRS.

Posted by: bert on November 29, 2007 at 12:38 PM | PERMALINK

This is just the sort of humane, decent, pro-vet thinking that is anathema to Republicans committed to keeping money flowing to the war machine (ie, their own pockets) over everything else, even if it means destroying the lives of American soldiers they oh so righteously claim to love and protect. And this is yet another example of why, even when people in the military tend to be more culturally conservative than the general population, more and more service men and women are realizing the Republicans and Republicanism are FUBAR.

Posted by: Trypticon on November 29, 2007 at 12:45 PM | PERMALINK

Of course, so many of those "malcontents" neither have their own eyes to view the dots nor legs with which to cross.

Posted by: bert on November 29, 2007 at 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

to sum up:

progs: oppose the war, love the soldier, support the soldier.
repugs: love the war, proclaim love for the soldier, hide behind the soldier in avoiding criticism of policies and tactics surrounding the war, destroy the soldier.

Posted by: Trypticon on November 29, 2007 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

Medicare is going broke. The VA isn't providing adequate care. So, why should we switch to having all medical care provided through the federal government?

Posted by: ex-liberal on November 29, 2007 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

You all seem to be missing the point here. Under Clinton the VA health care system, once the biggest joke in the medical profession, became the great success story of Government. The best health care available in America, government that works, all anathema to GWB and his cronies, who were elected (or selected) to show the country that Government doesn't work. So, what do you do with the biggest success story in government that works? You set it up for massive failure. Cut the budget and set up a foreign policy that is guaranteed to increase demand for its services.

Things are obviously working the way the Bush Administration wants them to work. Maybe you are all laboring under the delusion that the Bushies give a flying F about the welfare of the boys and girls who fight their wars?

Posted by: majun on November 29, 2007 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

Blue Girl: I deal with a similar issue in a different venue. The argument that will be made is that the 10% of the people who are turned down will end up having gotten free medical care for a few months and possibly a few hundred dollars.

This brings us to the standard question: Is it better for a few deserving people to be denied in order to keep some undeserving people from getting served, or is better to accept that a few undeserving people will be served in order to keep deserving people from being shut out?

It's the same argument as whether we should lock up a few innocent people to make sure we get all the bad guys or accept that a few bad guys will be not caught in order not to put anybody who is innocent in jail.


In both cases, Republicans pick the former, and Democrats pick the latter.


Posted by: anandine on November 29, 2007 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

The fact of the matter is that the Bush administration would like to get rid of the VA altogether and privitize its services. Even before the VA Medical System was labeled THE BEST system in the country, they attempted to sabotage the system. You recall they tried to starve the system early in the Bush admin. and when is was brought to light, the embarrasment caused them to support additional funding. Even before that, during the Clinton Admin. Newt suggested they just sign up Vets to HMOs. Newt also cut back residency programs at the VA which resulted in the physician shortages that exist today. Remember, a huge number of all the residency programs in the country operate out of VA facilities.
The real hero in all of this is, I believe, isKen Kaiser, who is responsible for revamping the VA system. Bush has attempted to undo all the improvements he made because the administration views the VA and an example of how single payer will be superior and less expensive than an insurance base system. The Administraion is still trying to sabotage the VA by putting unrealistic goals in place and starving funding. Keep this in mind.

Posted by: David Triche on November 29, 2007 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

Medicare is going broke. The VA isn't providing adequate care. So, why should we switch to having all medical care provided through the federal government?

Because the Federal government will soon be out of the hands of Republicans, you feckless neocon jackass.

"ex-liberal" has lately dropped his threadbare pretence as a reasonable commentator and become more overtly a troll. The impending defeat and disgrace of his Republican Party must be weighing on him heavily.

Good.

Posted by: Gregory on November 29, 2007 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

ex-liberal:

Get it straight. The VA is providing the BEST medical in the United States. THE BEST. IT is merely the paper work involved in signing up new patients that is a problem. And that is because Bush is withholding resources.

Posted by: David Triche on November 29, 2007 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

I have a friend who is a provider to the VA. What he charges for the equipment he sells to them would make a high priced hooker blush. I'm just guessing if your a business man there's no problem getting money from the VA for overpriced mercandise. So why not use Blue girls idea it couldn't possibly cost that much more than what they're already wasting and the people who really deserve it would get the service that should be coming to them.

Posted by: Gandalf on November 29, 2007 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

Bush supports the troops, as far as he is concerned, vets should disappear. It's kind of like their commitment to pro-life until the baby is born.

Posted by: freelunch on November 29, 2007 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

OR during a war, the gov increases the employees who are handling disability claims. DUH

Posted by: lilybart on November 29, 2007 at 2:07 PM | PERMALINK

If you initially rubber stamp VA medical claims then the next thing you know you'll be paying migrant tomato pickers an extra penny a pound. No card carrying Republican would ever go down that slippery slope.

Posted by: Tripp on November 29, 2007 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry for pointing out an obvious flaw in the idea. I promise to toe the Liberal line closer in the future.

Posted by: reino on November 29, 2007 at 2:34 PM | PERMALINK

rhino: I think toeing the liberal line is illegal in most jurisdictions. having a mind-body problem are we?

Posted by: Trypticon on November 29, 2007 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

And...how about we index the base line amount of funding the VA gets based on the amount of money we have spent on warfare. The more we fight, the more the VA gets. It might be calculated on a composite figure of what was spent over the previous, say, 30 years.

When I last bought a new car, I knew how much I was obliged to pay every month for the next 3 years - a definite help in my attempts at staying within a workable budget.

Posted by: Keith G on November 29, 2007 at 5:09 PM | PERMALINK

This is just the sort of humane, decent, pro-vet thinking that is anathema to Republicans committed to keeping money flowing to the war machine (ie, their own pockets) over everything else, even if it means destroying the lives of American soldiers they oh so righteously claim to love and protect. Posted by: Trypticon

It's pathetic that a warmongering administration wouldn't be all for giving vets the best care possible. Doh! I forgot. They're all chickenhawks with no soul and couldn't empathize if you shoved an RPG up their asses.

If the statistics about 1 in 4 homeless being Vietnam vets is correct (even if it's 1 in 10), we can expect a lot of problems 10-20 years down the road for people not getting the help and support they need now.

Posted by: JeffII on November 29, 2007 at 6:04 PM | PERMALINK

How about doubling or tripling the claims processing staff? That seems the least that could be done to "support the troops."

Posted by: Mazurka on November 29, 2007 at 7:23 PM | PERMALINK

I think Kevin and BG are missing the point that this backlog is a feature, not a bug, in the Bush administration.

Posted by: Aaron S. Veenstra on November 30, 2007 at 12:19 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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