Maloney’s Disabled Veteran Red Tape Reduction Act Easily Passes House, Advances to Senate
Washington, DC – Today, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed U.S. Representative Sean Patrick Maloney’s bipartisan veterans bill. Rep. Maloney’s Disabled Veterans Red Tape Reduction Act (HR 2935) will allow veterans to have their medical examinations done by physicians outside the VA system to help process veterans’ disability claims faster.
Working across the aisle, Rep. Maloney passed a similar version of this bill in the 113th Congress to help tackle the VA’s then-mounting claims backlog. Prior to his bill being passed in 2013, more than 700,000 veterans across the country were seeking compensation and pension disability benefits with more than 600,000 backlogged claims. The New York regional office alone had over 10,500 veterans waiting on disability claims with the average wait time of 358 days. Thanks in part to Rep. Maloney’s effort, the national backlog has declined dramatically by 87% and New York wait times decreased by 73%. However, the critical program in Rep. Maloney’s bill is set to expire this year. Without timely action from Congress, the progress made in reducing the VA’s backlog will be undone and more New York veterans could face dramatically increased wait times on their disability claims.
“As the son of a veteran, I know our military men and women put their lives on the line to defend our country – they shouldn’t be forced to wait months or years for care when they come home. This bipartisan legislation keeps in place an essential tool the VA needs to continue fighting the backlog problem,” said Rep. Maloney. “This program has been a proven success in reducing backlogged claims; allowing it to expire would overburden our VA system and hurt veterans – that’s just reprehensible.”
“Congressional extension of the authority for the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to contract with private physicians to conduct disability examinations for veteran claimants has shown itself to be an effective way to streamline the disability adjudication process, with accuracy rates comparable to VA examiners. DAV (Disabled American Veterans) supported Mr. Maloney’s leadership last year to extend this authority, originally enacted as a pilot program in 2003, and we again support his effort to continue it until 2016. Over the next year, untold thousands of veterans will benefit from their ability to obtain convenient examinations closer to home, because of Mr. Maloney’s foresight,” said Garry J. Augustine, Executive Director of DAV National Service and Legislative Headquarters.
“Representative Maloney’s bill is important to ensure that VA doctors are providing direct care to veterans on a day to day basis by allowing these contract physicians to conduct compensation and pension (C&P) exams. This bill will extend existing authority to allow what is currently working to continue to work for our veterans,” said Raymond C. Kelley, Director of National Legislative Service for the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW).
“In my role I am constantly running into veterans who have often experienced lengthy waits for services and claims with the VA system. Despite our proximity to New York City, we are still a very rural area with a poor public transportation system, and having the ability to see a physician of their own choosing would be a tremendous and sometimes lifesaving benefit. Kudos to Congressman Maloney for his role in this result,” said Andy Komonchak, Executive Director of the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor, Inc.
“The Military Order of the Purple Heart is proud to support Rep. Maloney's efforts to make quality health care more readily accessible to Veterans to include the utilization of civilian physician networks and urges all Members to support HR 2935, the Disabled Veterans Red Tape Reduction Act," said William Nazario, National Senior Vice Commander for Military Order of the Purple Heart.
“Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney's Disabled Veterans Red Tape Reduction Act not only demonstrates his commitment to veterans in his district but to veterans across the United States. This act will enable veterans to seek medical professionals of their own choosing and reduce the burden on veterans and their families who otherwise would have to travel long distance to visit medical professionals. Congressman Maloney's act should also expedite the processing time of veterans' VA claims,” said Brigadier General John Hussey, Chair of Rep. Maloney’s Veterans Advisory Board.
“The last thing our disabled veterans need is another barrier that keeps them from getting necessary medical help. The Disabled Veterans Red Tape Reduction Act is legislation that removes a potential obstacle by allowing more vets to see private doctors rather than having them wait possibly months to visit a VA doctor. It’s a plan that simply makes sense – and any veteran supports a mission that meets that criteria,” said Christian Farrell, Director of the Orange County Veterans Service Agency.
“Any effort to get claims processed faster and help our Veterans in Dutchess County and across the region is an important one. While the VA has done remarkable work cutting down its claims backlog and shortening the time it processes claims, the passage of a bill like this would mean even more help is available for the heroes that have proudly served our nation,” said Nelson Rivera, Director of Dutchess County Veterans' Services.
“It is vital that legislation like this be passed to help break up the backlog of Veterans claims. Sadly with the backlog we have Veterans dying before getting their claim adjudicated. This is an onerous state of affairs. We have to treat our Veterans better,” said Karl Rohde, Director of the Putnam County Veterans Service Agency.
Since joining Congress in 2013, Rep. Maloney has helped obtain 125 service medals and secured over $2.75 million in guaranteed benefits for deserving Hudson Valley veterans and their family members. Rep. Maloney has a full-time Veterans Advocate on staff to help veterans with their claims for educational, disability, retirement, medical, burial, spousal and dependents' benefits as well as the correction of military records and medals.