WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Bill Enyart (D-Illinois) released a statement in reaction to the allegations of falsified disability claim data at the Department of Veteran’s Affairs.
“It’s appalling,” Enyart said. “After a lifetime of service in the military, I cannot fathom the disrespect with which our veterans' health care and records are treated. This is the reason I wrote the Veterans Backlog Reduction Act last year.
”Yesterday, Allison Hickey of the Veterans Benefits Administration testified on Capitol Hill about the VA’s efforts to reduce the disability claims backlog. This comes amid allegations that data has been falsified to manipulate actual processing time for disability claims. An internal inspector general testified at the same hearing that that some VA facilities are being investigated for 'data integrity' related to the backlog claim reporting."
The inspector refused to state the VA’s reported data was trustworthy. Enyart, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, introduced the Veterans Backlog Reduction Act in May 2013, which aimed to ensure that veterans’ disability claims are handled in a timely manner. Since then, the VA states that the claims backlog has been reduced by roughly 55 percent, decreasing from 600,000 claims to 275,000 within a year.
Now the integrity of that data is being questioned.
“If the VA is again manipulating the figures rather than really helping veterans, it is inexcusable,” Enyart said. “The VA needs to serve veterans, not itself.”