Rep. Gloria Negrete McLeod (CA-35) released the following statement after introducing HR 1623, the Veterans Administration (VA) Claims Efficiency through Information Act of 2013:
"We must ensure that our veterans receive adequate and timely assistance by putting pressure on the VA to get this backlog under control," explained Negrete McLeod. "After serving our country, too many Veterans still wait too long for a decision on their disability compensation claims. This legislation will require more accountability from the VA by tracking the time spent evaluating each type of medical condition in a veteran's disability claim: one of the biggest contributors to the claims backlog."
Serving on the Veterans' Affairs Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs, Rep. Negrete McLeod has been made aware of the VA's ongoing issue of unprocessed veteran benefits claims. As of March 30, 2013, the VA had 885,068 claims pending. Of those, almost 70% were pending over 125 days. More than half of this backlog consists of claims from Vietnam and Gulf War veterans.
This bill would also:
Make publicly accessible information about pending and completed claims for compensation, including detailed information of the performance of each regional office.
Would require VA to provide all of this information in a weekly update that would be placed online and available to the public.
VA regional offices in California that would benefit from this legislation include Los Angeles, Oakland, and San Diego.
Joining Rep. Negrete McLeod in introducing HR 1623 are Republican Paul Cook (CA-08) and Democrats Dr. Raul Ruiz (CA-36) and Ann McLane Kuster (NH-02), all members of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.
"As a freshman member, Congresswoman Negrete McLeod has been proactive in addressing multiple issues facing our nation's veterans," explained Rep. Mike Michaud (ME-2), ranking member of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs. "This bill provides some much-needed transparency that will help Congress play a more constructive role in helping the VA address the claims backlog--a concern of veterans of all eras."
This is the second bill Rep. Negrete McLeod has introduced as a freshman member in Congress addressing veterans' issues. Her first bill, Veterans Excellence through Education Act of 2013, would establish a competitive grant program aimed at helping college campuses provide academic and related support services for all enrolled veterans.