tv Washington This Week CSPAN March 3, 2014 4:59am-6:01am EST
we would be proud to serve. that is why this country is never going to be overrun by an enemy force as long as we all draw breath. this completes my testimony and my staff and i would be pleased to respond to any questions you may have. take you for allowing me the opportunity to appear before you on behalf of the dav. bless america preposterous soldier, sailors, who are in harms way.
[applause] thank you for your testimony. since would like to do, the senators may have to go back to the senate side for the debate that is on the floor, i would like to yield to the chairman for any questions he may have in case he has to leave. you, chairman miller. i appreciate that courtesy. i am grateful for that. i want to focus on the capital
budget. the 10 year plan, that as you say, cannot be accomplished in less than 25 years. that is a contradiction in terms and a betrayal of the promises that we do need to keep. i want to ask you about the impacts -- if you could tell us from your deep and vast of failing to fulfill a ten-year plan. >> it will be greater if we bring down the army and the other services to pre-world war ii levels. inundateding to be with new request for claims and healthcare services.
to have these infrastructure facilities falling down is the wrong thing to do. we need to make sure that we get the appropriate amount of funds budgeted to cover these --rtfalls that are going to in years to come. just because the war ends does not mean that the necessity for v.a. services gets any less. [applause] >> perhaps you agree with me that the contrary is true -- as the war ends and as we downsize to level of world war ii and pre-world war ii, the ,rmy at 440,000 to 450,000 we're going to see a million men and women leave the military
over the next five years. that statistic comes from the v.a. itself. a million men and women becoming veterans. , not onlyem afflicted with highly visible wounds, but the horrific invisible wounds of post traumatic stress. they are the ones that will be impacted by this failure to fulfill a ten-year plan. the vaecticut, we see hospital in west haven found wanting and failing in a number of areas. it has to be addressed through capital improvement as well as changes in practices and procedures. i would agree with you very strongly and want to commend and andk you for the statement
presence of so many of the members that are here today so we can fulfill a promise. thank you very much. [applause] i want to thank you, mr. chairman, for allowing me to ask that question. if i have to leave, i hope you will forgive me. thank you. >> senator heller. >> thank you for your testimony. it is good to see you here. afternoon, i have a secretary coming into my office. i am going to ask a lot of questions. this earns backlog issue and progress, if any are being made. the issue of the lack of communication between my office and -- in reno.
questions that you might think i should ask him. -- whate any questions question would you ask and i will take notes. this is your chance to advocate. to tellldn't presume you what to ask the secretary. is an airborne ranger, so he is my friend. he has told me that he will reduce the backlog by 2015. i would defer to members of my staff for any additional information they may want to share. >> i would love to hear from them. the v.a. is making progress on the backlog. advanced appropriations is necessary because every year thee is a lapse between
start of the fiscal year and when the budget is finally approved. that causes all kinds of problems and training, and getting things accomplished in a business efficient manner. like the secretary to support our efforts to get advanced appropriations. he, himself, has indicated it is important for his i.t. budget, his construction budget, to be received on time. we would like to know if the secretary will continue to advance -- to support our advanced appropriations. >> anyone else? i appreciate those comments. they will be well heated. -- heeded.
one of the issues that comes up is the fully developed claims program. submit a fully toeloped claim are able receive a decision in under 125 days. that ensures their claims do not become backlog. what more can congress and the v.a. do to ensure that these ns fill out a fully developed claim? generalld make a comment before i turn us over to my staff. the reduction of the backlog is a combination of fully developed qs,im processes, the db and accountability passed on to the review officers. those three things are the types of answers to reduce the claims
to a manageable level and reduce the backlog entirely. ask a follow-up question -- i know the dav works .ard to encourage veterans you were to file as complete a claim as possible. veterans need to have the options to file any way they want. is that accurate? thisou explain to committee why it is important for veterans to file a claim anywhere they want? >> i will defer that the staff. >> thank you. i think it is important that veterans have the opportunity to file a claim, whether it is on e.z., the standard 526 v.a.can send it to the regional office, v.a. has a duty to send a claim and the
appropriate form to be completed and they return. that napkin starts today. -- starts to date. they recommend you file it on .z. to date and that do not agree on. stagesstill in the early of the transformation stage of filing early. you mentioned fully developed plans. toorder to encourage people develop their own claims, veterans, it is important to have that process so that they claim.ablish an informal
that will protect the effective date so they can develop information that is needed to be a fully developed claim. the claim goes through the process much quicker. without that protection on the effective date, they will not be motivated to go out and develop that evidence. v.a. toleave it to the determine which clauses have a much longer development time. >> my time has run out. it has been a pleasure to participate in keep the promise. [applause] in your written testimony you talked about several initiatives have had ands positive effect on the backlog of disability claims. one of those initiatives is the orlity control regimes
quality review team. i don't know if you or your team is aware that despite this positive feedback, there was a memo sent out a week ago that dva staff would -- the quality review teams would be discontinued until further notice so all hands could continue processing claims. what i would like to hear from you is the effect that a temporary elimination of these review teams may have on the secretary's goal of 95% accuracy within 125 days, turning numbers out is one thing. the accuracy is critical. may not be aware of it, but i would like to hear from you what you think the
potential effects, negative or positive, could be. >> i will have staff answer that question. you, mr. chairman. quality is our number-one one priority. it always has been. teams. supportive of the we are aware of the initiative. it is important v.a. makes a decision right the first time. that is the only way we wanted. we are going to monitor, very closely, to see how it impacts. what we don't want to see is this continue to happen. that was our concern in the beginning. qrt teams are very important and we have been happy with their progress. they would do some centralized on the issues they see in that office.
we feel that quality is an issue over quantity. [applause] >> you stated the most important productivityg me gains is the policy that was put into place for claims processing. the overtime initiative has been helpful, without question, but it is not sustainable. to employee burnout and reduced accuracy rates. the benefits program portion of the independent budget recommends that we provide sufficient resources to ensure adequate staffing levels that vba. what i would like to hear is a
further explanation of the independent budget rationale for the positions, or the position that you take or the organizations took, that hiring employees may improve the reliance on mandatory overtime. >> i would like to say a few general words before i for to staff. --r the years, the appended the independent budget has been a bellwether for what was needed in the v.a.. every time it is ignored, it always results in additional appropriations having to be passed. we have confidence in our numbers, quality of the product, and we certainly believe you should pay attention and heat it -- heed it. >> i will respond to that, mr.
chairman. in the independent budget, what we thought about was what happened several years ago when they brought a core of temporary employees, trained them, put them into the workforce, and through attrition, kept them on after the temporary period or let them go. t provided v.a. with the resources and significantly trained employees and the opportunity to make a determination as to who was successful and who they could keep on. we feel that overtime is nice, but after a wild, people get while,ut -- after a people get burnt out. with the automation and one of the a is doing, the needs for the numbers that we have requested may go down over the years.
that gives v.a. the ability to decrease their work force when necessary and keep those that are productive. >> my time is expired. in them this year's independent budget, you included we mustendation that develop a new metrics to measure the performance at every level of the claims processing system based upon a scientific method of projecting workloads, resources, requirements, and allocations. provide some examples of the performance measures you believe should be instituted? >> i will defer the question to the staff. bewe believe there should progressive messick's -- metrics
with transparency so that we can sure the ca are meeting their needs and making sure that it is more than just production goals, but also quality goals. themll continue to watch closely and make them accountable for those benchmarks. -- ife is a saying you can't measure it, you can't measure. all part of the claims process should be counted in order to be measured? you can get a lot of claims out the door, but the accuracy rate might be terrible. processt of the claims should be measured? is making sure everybody knows about production metrics.
we are concerned about the quality of the claims that are being done. for all of the claims we represent, we look at the claims before they are make sure there are no mistakes and take them back to the v.a. before they are finalized. veterans that are not represented. it is very important to make sure that quality across the board is being done and that that they do it right the first time. [applause] having that said, that would also reduce the appeals because if they get it right the first time, you will not have as many appeals. my next question is -- as they move to lower the backlog,
the amount of appeals is going up. what are you recommending as far as farhat should we do as the appeals process. that is a huge concern is the backlog claim comes down the appeals process goes higher. to fix ise we can do at the front end, and i believe those willc's -- help the appeal process. the evidence will be there at the very beginning that they need to do it right the first time, the time frame for those claims are much shorter and i believe veterans would be much more satisfied to get a claim in a matter of weeks as opposed to a matter of months or years.
thatng that the evidence they submitted and also all of the evidence was considered as opposed to starting a claim, exam and not having the claim adjudicated until months later when the condition could change between the time they had their examine the time they adjudicate the claim. >> by last question, since my time is running out, on advanced appropriations, i have no doubt that that bill was brought to , that it passed congress. what are you doing as far as getting leadership to bring the bill to the house floor for a vote on it? our department of ohio had a meeting in the discuss thatice to fact and bringing advanced appropriations forward.
keep the promise, we had thousands of calls made into the capitol hill switchboard at e were at the rally. we hope with those phone calls and e-mails we will be generating today, they will get the message to bring the bill to the floor for a vote. >> thank you. >> thank you very much. >> i got the message. [laughter] [applause] i would like to take a moment, dav, i would like to thank my colleagues. thank you for your leadership for the dav. a story about you how much i appreciate why you
are here. about a year and a half ago, i got to go back to korea, where i was stationed. is still straight after 40 years. civilians may not understand that, but you do. i got a chance to go back to korea. i was there in 1973. i saw a country dig its way out of a war. they were recovering from a devastating war that level the country from one into the other. fourth, they had the poorest economy in the world. today, because of what you men and women did, and people like you, there are 50 million free people and the leadership of that country said every time you get in front of a group of veterans, you thank them for us. i am doing that today. largest christian church in the world is in sole, korea -- seole, korea.
saw what happened after world war ii. i cannot thank you enough for what you have done. i can never do enough for our veterans in this country. we have a va hospital a mile from my front door. you have my commitment. i cannot see why we would not do this. it makes sense to do it with a whole budget, get it done in one year and refinement the second year. the v.a. was a good start. advancedus the way appropriations work. i will support that. the frustration i have is the billion dollars we spent.
we cannot have an integrated electronic health record. we flushed a billion dollars. we still cannot make it work. my sixth year here. i cannot understand why a andran cannot leave electronically transfer their records. we need to do that and hold the v.a. accountable for that. the backlog of claims has been discussed. it is coming down. i salute the secretary on that. he has commitment. i am passionate about homeless veterans. it is heartbreaking when you see a veteran sleeping under a bridge that honorably served this country. good, butl has been we do not have enough housing stock to put these veterans in. we need to work on housing homeless veterans and get them integrated into society.
cochaired the invisible wounds caucus. when you have more veterans dying from suicide than combat, something is wrong. when he programs and find out with the causes armed with the resources behind preventing that. we have so many veterans that are in need right now. that is one that i feel passionate about. other one, at the local level, is to bring the v.a. to the community. the community outpatient clinics that we have, we just open one up, it will have to be expanded in a year and a half. it was that successful. and i are having breakfast with a secretary in the morning. if you want to give us any other question that senator heller did not give, we will be happy to take them. i will stop there.
thank you for your service. i hear all of the claims that i think we can support -- pretty much everything. thank you for your service. i yield back. [applause] >> you are recognized for five minutes. >> on behalf of the five californians, the three of us myself, congresswoman congresswoman julia, raul ruiz.and dr. i would like to add knowledge to californians in the room. if you are here from california, please stand and let us know
your present. -- you are present. [applause] we make that trip back and forth between washington and california and we know what a journey made and we appreciate that you have come all that way to let us know your agenda. it is an honor to serve on this committee. to do what we can. i represent riverside county. largeste eighth veterans population the country. i mail my counsel last week -- i met with my counsel last week. they are doing a tremendous job to reach out to homeless veterans, to find where they account.t to get -- a count. i am aligned with the secretary's goals, ending veterans homelessness.
i have one question i want to ask. it is my understanding that the v.a. has published new regulations that establish presumptions for veterans living with severe, traumatic brain injury. types of dimension, depression, unprovoked seizures, hypothalamusf the and pituitary glands. given these additional disabilities, is a your -- is yourn organization aware of any planning or analysis that has been done that relates to the possible impact of the veteran administration's backlog? >> we are not aware of any planning at the v.a. has and how they're going to implement that.
>> because of the rule change, i have seen a tremendous impact as of now. >> we have not seen a spike in the backlog. you are not anticipating a spike and you are prepared as of now? >> i'm not sure if we anticipate a spike. -- the v.a.iscussed has not discussed it. >> very good. i did not have any further questions.
i yield back my time. thank you very much. [applause] thank you, mr. chairman. i am grateful to be here with you today. we have seen so many delegates from ohio. if anyone out there is someone i had the opportunity to lay my hands on, interact, i want to tell you, it was my honor to take care of you. exists and il that am on the side of things. tearing the process of that down. we are one family. when you take that oath in use snd going to serve thi
country, it should go right on through. records, toedical me, that is shameful. it delays care and makes it more difficult to have a smooth well of care. i see positive things. seeing startup programs where they're focusing on transition. and makes sense to me that if getting asabled or medical separation, venture level of disability can be determined at that time and be carried over into the v.a.. there are other things i see starting to take place. that is guiding troops as they're leaving the military -- leaving the military.
to be able use the skills that they learned in the military and translate them into civilian work and help them get there. guidance on the educational opportunity. i believe they have the greatest opportunity when you have the troops still in uniform. they are a more captive audience. these are the things we need to do to make your jobs easier. we endured in our medical or we had to change to electronic medical records. it can be done. you just do it. then there is a seamless flow. things are getting better. the opportunities are great. questionsave any except i want to thank you for all that you do. i know how active you are and how many people you help. i know the challenge that comes with that. i want to thank you for keep
your -- for keeping your promise of service to this country. thank you. [applause] >> thank you for being here. thank you for your service. i want to think the california delegation who is here. what steps has deviate taken to conduct outreach towards women veterans and what could the v.a. facilities do more of the -- you more effectively to integrate women's health care programs into the centers? we lead all of the legacy of
eso's on our women's programs and we are the sponsors of every meeting that has occurred with the v.a. in order to do that. answers to your questions i will defer to the staff. >> thank you. in 2008, we began stand up women's veteran campaign. we plan to release a special report and sponsor another capitol hill event focused on women's transition issues. events, we plan to bring the women featured in the film to washington.
our special edition women's magazine was mailed to every v.a. medical center. the screenings of the film help inform policymakers about the special needs of women veterans resulting in legislation being passed. on aav is also engaging to lookresearch project into the transitioning of women after deployment back into the civilian world. what issues they may be dealing with that are different than men. there are a lot of women that have already returned who are out there. homelessness amongst women is a large issue. the places where they feel safe when they're homeless. thank you. >> thank you.
[applause] >> thank you, each and everyone of you, for your service. attendanceked the there is one new jerseyan on the list. thank you all for your service. it is rare that we have the from the davrtise all sitting at the table at one time. when we talk about metrics, a kind of sets my hair on fire. onen't know if you are the to answer this question.
when we talk about metrics, we touched on it a little bit, it seems to me that a lot of the time, where i am, and it seems to many of our constituents and veterans, that it is almost at the v.a. is running to the next major crisis. put out a fireto or is it a combination of putting out a fire and having the personnel to address the crisis. it seems our attention changes monthly. -- fully up to now developed claims are great, but we have an increase in appeals. the day?he flavor of are we accomplishing anything or are we playing a shell game? i want to throw that out for comment or suggestion.
set sheet oft a measurements so we can judge the progress we're trying to make. >> we had a report from general hickey yesterday that there are some reduction in the claims backlog, that even goes beyond what we knew of. defer to the rest of the staff for the specifics of those questions. >> is one of the things we raised in our testimony about the transparency of testimony. we can see the progression how they're proposing a. , that is thee fire backlog, and someone forgets about the fact that now that we have done all of those claims and decided them, what happens to them? dva gets five percent of appeals from those that are filed. that is one of the things we would like to see v.a. do a
better job at. metricsgiving us their and how they are figuring this out and what they're looking at. one of the issues that we have talked about in the independent -- vha is able to determine what their needs are vbaugh a metric for ram and -- through a metric program and a vba should be able to do the same. sharing a subcommittee on disability and memorial affairs, it is a daily affair. we believe that the transformation to paperless process is the right thing to do. -- it is in its fourth year.
we do believe that many of the initiatives are coming online and we are hoping that they are showing positive results and processrt to help the be much more quality effective from this point forward. >> tank you for that. i will leave with this -- dealing with advanced appropriations. before. brought this up it was within the first couple of months, my first term, three years ago. we had a brand-new expansion, they have the x-ray machine sitting there. they could not install the x-ray machine because they did not ave the i.t. budget to put wire in the wall to hook it to the computer that came with the x-ray machine. that is the detail we are talking about.
with that, i yield back, mr. chairman. thank you, chairman miller. thank you, commander, for your service and continuing your service and to your family. no warrior deploys alone and no warrior comes home alone. there is a flame lane -- a family and a broader community. minnesota delegation here, couple of these folks hold a special place for me. i will speak up for you. dave is here. he came to my office for a special project, wounded warriors. are you here? i ask that to make sure you're working.
we are grateful. to each of you, no one comes to capitol hill with more credibility than this organization. no one understands the importance of what you are doing. this goes beyond care of our wounded warriors. are our values and commitments. what are we willing to do for those who understand a little bit about service to this nation. less and lessthat people serve in uniform. you is a good thing because know what comes with that service. somebody still has to do it. the rest of the folks that are not doing it need to understand. veterans benefits are not a charity or a lottery. this works.the way it is my secondary thing. we have to get it right. it right because
it cuts to the core of the nation. what is the next generation looking at in terms of getting rights? it is broader than that. it is healthy to have debates appear. it is not healthy when veterans are put out there and their well-being is put at risk because we have political differences. it is healthy to have differences. you find the commonality. there is no one i would rather stand within them. on all theree issues, but we agree about the care of our veterans. when you bring these things up, it is important. ,hat it is hard to understand there are folks here who did not
just fight the wars, you came ghtingnd have been fi for these things for decades. democracy always has to keep growing. we have to keep data. it will not run itself. -wish i had to put up with the nonsense of having the funding their wind is needed. how do we get the care? no one in my district tells me, you need to cut the budget by making sure veterans do not get the care they need. i have never heard anyone say that. that is not one they say. keeping the promise, nothing should be easier than keeping that promise. every person in america wants us to keep that promise. [applause] here is what you need to know --
the folks sitting up. -- i have two questions asked. is important to understand that there are folks working today that could not come out. you took your time and money and came out here. the folks on capitol hill are the best at what they do. many things that get done do not get done because of political malice. they get done out of ignorance because tubal don't know. presidentuntry, kennedy was right about this one. you can curse the darkness or you can light the damn candle. a lot of people are connoisseurs of cursing the darkness. advanced appropriation, that is a candle. get it done, get it lit, get fixed. [applause]
i am going to ask one thing -- how can we help this? senator bozeman was part of a documentary that was done on jason erhard and his family. jason was blown up in iraq and he came back home and at the said through new technology, it is not good enough to get these guys in wheelchairs and find the newest prosthetic. here that cans attest to this. we do not know the limitations of your readability -- rehabilitation. they may be your son, but they are our warrior. i am out of time. jason and his parents -- they are not happening -- they are telling me it is not happening the way we plan for it to
happen. this 23-year-old kid summed it up best. he said, what kind of person wants to be told they plateaued? , i want toateauing ski again. that is the call to action and the candle we need to light. i hope we come back to figure out how we ask for that implementation. you for indulging me, mr. chairman. now you know why we call him command sergeant major. the highest-ranking soldier ever to have served in the united dates congress. [applause] >> thank you, mr. chair. i want to welcome everyone who
is here from the great state of california. thank you for traveling here. thank you for what you do every day for our veterans in california. my hat is off to you. thank you for your testimony today and your detailed, written testimony that has been offered to us. this is an excellent document that we canld on to refer to often, to make sure that we are fulfilling our response bill of these. -- our responsibilities. thank you for that. you described the men and women in this room as men and women of honor. i want to tell you that i concur wholeheartedly that every man and woman in this room are men en of honor.
i want to express my gratitude to them. [applause] i want to follow-up on a question with regards to our female disabled veterans and female veterans in general. i'm excited to hear about what is coming forward this year. i look forward to the film screening and if there's anything at can do to be helpful, i would be honored to offer a helping hand. i want to know if we will get to a place where we have -- what are the specific things we need
to do for our women veterans and our ability to create the metrics that we have been talking about today and the transparency to have the metrics oversee to make sure that we are providing everything we need for our female veterans. >> i will refer to the staff. years, the last several we have been evaluating the health care delivery model for women veterans. the population of women using the v.a. system has doubled over the last five years. we are pleased that one of the v.a. secretary's highest goals are to ensure that all women veterans have access to high-quality health care from a provider proficient in women's health. there are still work to be done, but to achieve this goal, we believe the v.a. is heading in the right direction.
we want to be sure that women veterans have access to all the a special programs and -- all v.a. special programs and services. >> last week, this committee on subcommitteeld a in my district, and ventura, county, california, to discuss alternative mental health care. we learned a lot in that hearing. my county, ventura county, there is up to a 44 day wait. to get any kind of mental health care services. that is way too long. veterans have to travel into los angeles county to do the intake for their services.
we do not have enough mental health providers to meet the needs in our county. i am looking forward to being able to resolve some of those issues. we spent a great deal of time talking about alternatives, mental health options. dav hostsnd that the an event and it sounds like a really wonderful event. , from yours to know perspective, are there other alternative forms of therapy that the dav has found to improve psychological well-being of veterans that are suffering from post traumatic stress? chief operating officer in my full-time job at the largest mental health agency in cincinnati.
yes. there are many things that are done and many things that the dav funds that are alternative therapies, through our charitable service program. staff can tell you is some of those are, but it can be coreing with dolphins, spec writing, something as simple as growing a garden. riding, something as simple as growing a garden. the normalization of their lives is important function of that. we believe that it went do all we can do to fund those types of programs. i defer to the staff for further answers. we agree that alternative therapies are important. beinghe meditation is more known as a way to deal with those types of issues. we are pleased that the v.a. is
starting to look at alternative therapies. not just stuck in the traditional therapy mode anymore. they are considering other types of therapies. 900 and two peer counselors. -- 900 peer to peer counselors. you for your indulgence. you, members, for hanging in there. we appreciate your testimony. to each and everyone of you that have made the trip to your nation's capital, we thank you. we thank you for what you have done for this country. we thank you for what you continue to do for this country. membersask that all
>> on the next "washington looks at josh rogan the latest updates on ukraine, syria, venezuela, and other international stories. by a talk about the impact of the health care law of small businesses that offer health care insurance to employees. creating manufacturing hubs around the country. ," live atn journal 7:00 a.m. eastern on c-span. >> the internet, as we know it today, bears no resemblance to monopoly telephone service pack in the 1930's and 1940's and
1950's. the courts have said and ift the congress supports is i walk into a grocery store and i buy a gallon of milk and pay three dollars 50 cents a gallon, if i buy 10 gallons, i pay $35 for all 10 gallons. tom wheeler wants to say you can use as much milk as you want and you only have to pay $3.50. that is wrong. netflix is the biggest user of the internet. sometimes they are as much as 30% of the total volume of the internet. obviously, they should pay more than someone who uses the internet once a month. i am being very simplistic. that is the genesis. these companies have spent billions of dollars to set up their systems and to provide fiber optics and all of the
>> this week on "q&a," bloomberg columnist and author virginia postrel discusses her book, "the power of glamour: longing and the art of visual persuasion." >> virginia postrel, author of "the power of glamour," in history, from your perspective, which political figure is the most glamorous? >> wow, that is a really hard question. alexander the great is a candidate. napoleon is a candidate. not just current figures, obviously, in history. thomas jefferson is somebody we remember as a glamorous figure. george washington in some ways, and, of course, in recent history, more recent history, president kennedy is somebody