A recent press release from the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs detailed the highlights that vets will benefit from with the American Rescue Plan…
•Increase claims and appeals processing to reduce the backlog caused by COVID-19: The pandemic has caused untold hardship across our country and has resulted in claims processing delays that slow delivery of benefits to disabled veterans. This additional funding will help cover overtime costs so staff can speedily work through these delays, expand service record scanning services and boost the ability for the Board of Veterans Appeals’ to conduct telehearings. Additionally, a significant portion of these funds will go towards assistance for scanning veterans’ military records and integrating them into VA systems.
•Provide critical funding for the Veterans Health Administration (VHA): As VA continues to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is crucial that they have additional resources to care for our nation’s veterans as many may require more expensive care after a year of enduring the pandemic and delaying key appointments or rely on VA exclusively for healthcare due to economic strain. This funding will also support VA so it can continue to sustain CARES Act-supported staffing and service expansions on suicide prevention, women’s health, enhancements for VA homelessness programs, and telehealth expansion.
•Bolster VA’s supply chain modernization: The pandemic has exposed weaknesses in VA’s hospital supply system. Through this funding, we can accelerate VA’s supply chain modernization efforts which are crucial for the current and future pandemics.
•Support State Veterans Homes: State Veterans Homes have been hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 pandemic– that’s why it is critical that we include funding to help states upgrade State Veterans Homes across the country and provide one-time emergency federal payments to support these facilities and ensure veterans are adequately taken care of during the pandemic.
•Fund stronger oversight through VA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG): This funding will help VA’s OIG continue their stringent oversight of VA’s response to the pandemic.
•Secure assistance for unemployed veterans: The pandemic has left thousands of veterans without work– by funding up to 12 months of rapid retraining assistance to veterans who are unemployed as a result of the pandemic and do not receive other veteran education benefits, we can help veterans get back to work.
•Prohibit copayments for medical care for veterans during pandemic: During this unprecedented emergency, veterans should not have to pay for medical care. This funding will allow VA to waive copays that would otherwise be charged to veterans for VA healthcare services during the pandemic and reimburse those for veterans who have already submitted payments.
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