New Exams Offered to Affected Veterans
By Sandra Basu
WASHINGTON—With thousands of traumatic brain injury (TBI) examinations not conducted by designated specialists, the VA is offering to reprocess disability claims for affected veterans.
At a recent congressional hearing, agency officials told lawmakers that they are working to rectify the situation for more than 24,000 veterans who had initial TBI exams for disability compensation claims conducted by personnel that did not meet VA’s standards.
Reviews by both VA and journalists in Minnesota in 2015 found that many TBI exams to determine benefits were performed by individuals who were not among four medical specialists designated to conduct the exams. Following that, a national review initiated by VA this year found that thousands of the TBI exams were not directed by one of the specialists.
In June, VA announced it would offer new TBI exams and the opportunity to have claims reprocessed to those affected.
At the recent hearing, David McLenachen, deputy undersecretary for disability assistance at the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) testified that VA “regrets that these examinations were not completed by a designated specialist the first time.”
“To minimize burden and ensure no financial harm to affected veterans, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs granted equitable relief to all of the more than 24,000 identified veterans on May 3, 2016,” McLenachen told the House Committee on Veterans Affairs Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs subcommittee.
While implantable devices have shown promise in reducing rehospitalization for heart failure (HF), VA researchers sought to determine if options that are less expensive and non-invasive would have comparable results.
Legislation to prevent VA from outsourcing creation of its drug formulary and to require more input from medical professions is being considered in Congress.