VA Hypes Paperless Claims Progress

This is one of those, "Where's the Beef?" bits . . .

This is one of those, "Where's the Beef?" bits . . .

The Veterans Affairs Department issued a press release on Thursday that said the department will test a new system in its Providence, R.I., regional office in November for paperless processing of veterans disability claims. Those claims are expected to top 1.2 million this year, the first time in history VA has faced more than a million claims. In the release, departmental Secretary Eric Shinseki said the Providence test "marks a major milestone in VA's move to paperless processing."

But on closer examination, it appears to be part of a claims automation plan detailed last month at a House VA Committee hearing. At that hearing, Michael Walcoff, VA acting undersecretary for benefits, highlighted various components of the overall VA claims automation plan, with the first field deployment planned for November, and the start of deployment of a nationwide paperless claims processing system in fiscal 2012.

Thursday's press release lacks details on what kind of systems will be installed in Providence and how they will speed up processing. Based on Walcoff's July testimony, the system will include one of those voguish "IT dashboards" that will allow claims examiners to eyeball relevant information about an individual claim, and hence speed processing.

But Joseph Violante, national legislative director for Disabled American Veterans, told the House hearing in July he was concerned VA did not plan to add rules-based processing used by the insurance industry to speed processing until years after the deployment of the Veterans Benefit Management System.

He urged VA to reassess its stance on rules-based processing while the automation project is still in early development.

I'd sure like to find out where VA stands on rules-based processing today.

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