The following editorial appeared Monday in The Fayetteville (N.C.)Observer:
With a backlog in processing disability claims, the Department of Veterans affairs made a push late last year to catch up. The initiative reduced the excess caseload by more than a third.
And that’s precisely the wrong approach as a wave of additional veterans ends deployment this year, says a report from Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.
The organization calls on the VA to implement an entirely new strategy. IAVA is particularly concerned that a push to process more claims whenever there’s a backlog results in more mistakes.
We’d all like to see the claims expedited with accuracy, but bold new strategies usually come with side effects.
The advocacy group is backing two specific reforms. IAVA proposes standardized VA claim forms, which in theory could speed up processing. It also wants to see the creation of an electronic health record system accessible by both the VA and the Department of Defense.
These moves are certain to have some implementation and maintenance costs, though these should be offset, especially over time, by significant gains in efficiency. Likely fewer government workers would be needed as well.
A system that improves speed and accuracy while eliminating waste and surplus bureaucracy probably threatens somebody, but should be welcome news to taxpayers and veterans.
Why haven’t we done this already?