Status of VA Mission Act Implementation

Exchange of letters between Alex Burum and U.S. Rep Julia Brownley , CA 26CD,  on Mission Act implementation

From: Hague, Daniel <[email protected]>
Sent: Friday, May 3, 2019 2:06:42 PM
To: Alex Burum
Subject: [External] RE: Delays in the VA Mission Act
 

Alex,

Thank you for reaching out with your concerns. Congresswoman Brownley and I also received the message you sent through her website.

As we discussed by phone recently, Congresswoman Brownley shares your deep concerns about the significant delay in implementation of the caregiver expansion.  She and her colleagues on the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee (HVAC) have raised concerns about VA’s delays in implementing the necessary IT systems to support expansion of the caregivers programs. Most recently, Congresswoman Brownley wrote Secretary of Veterans Affairs Wilkie regarding a request for funds to implement IT systems (see attached). She also raised this issue at a HVAC Technology Modernization Subcommittee hearing. If you’re interested, you can read the witness testimony and watch that hearing online at:https://veterans.house.gov/legislation/hearings/subcommittee-technology-modernization-mapping-challenges-and-progress-office. Furthermore, the HVAC has repeatedly asked for information regarding the implementation’s progress. Unfortunately, the Trump Administration’s response to these requests has been either exceedingly slow, or non-existent.

With that said, please be assured that Congresswoman Brownley continues to monitor MISSION Act implementation closely, and will continue to use HVAC’s oversight authority to demand VA meet its obligations to our veterans under the law, including completion of the caregiver program expansion.

Again, it was nice to talk with you. Please don’t hesitate to reach out again if you have questions.

Best,

Danny Hague

Legislative Assistant

Office of Congresswoman Brownley

(202)225-5811

From: Alex Burum
Sent: Thursday, April 18, 2019 3:37 PM
To: Menges, John <[email protected]>; Dougherty, Robert <[email protected]>;[email protected]

(MORE CC’S NOT SHOWN HERE)
Subject: Delays in the VA Mission Act

Dear Robert Dougherty/Julia Brownley,

I am writing this with great concern for the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers.  Currently there are programs for spousal caregivers and post 9-11 caregivers.  However, there is/has been a gap in assistance for non-spousal, pre-9-11 caregivers to 100% disabled veterans – which is why we passed the VA Mission Act of 2018.  This effort has been met with continued delays preventing the bill from being implemented.   Please see https://www.military.com/daily-news/2019/03/11/tech-problems-delay-rollout-expanded-va-caregiver-program.html

“The information technology systems needed to widen the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers, which missed an Oct. 1, 2018 progress deadline, will not be certified by the congressionally required deadline of Oct. 1, 2019.”

“This delay means that caregivers of veterans the Vietnam War and earlier will not be able to apply for the program as expected starting Oct. 1. By law, applications were to be phased in with those veterans eligible first. Those who served from May 1975 through Sept. 11, 2001 were to become eligible two years later.”

As a non-spousal caregiver to a pre-911, 100% disabled veteran, I find these delays very disturbing.  We are coming up on the one-year anniversary of passing this bill to aid pre-911 veteran family caregivers, with little to show but extended delays.  Please see https://www.npr.org/2018/12/18/677346997/va-still-arbitrarily-cutting-caregivers-from-program-even-as-it-aims-to-expand

“Congressional sources confirmed that the VA has missed its first deadline in October to implement new information technology for the caregiver expansion — raising serious concerns of further delay. VA says the department will not deploy the new system until it is ready and has been tested thoroughly.

But VA also recently blew through a deadline to fix the IT for a new GI bill rule, and did so without initially telling Congress about the delay.”

I would like to know what can be done to keep this program on schedule beginning with our service members from pre-1975, followed by 1975-2001 veterans.  In cases where there is not a spousal caregiver, there is no support to family members like myself, who take on the burden of caring for our heroes who have sacrificed for our freedom.

Please review who is eligible for the VA’s Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers Program.  https://cck-law.com/news/eligible-VA-comprehensive-assistance-family-caregiver or VA Form 10-10CG.  Non-spousal caregivers of 100% disabled veterans, like myself, have been left out.  After passing this bill in 2018, we are waiting an additional 2 years (phase 2) plus IT delays (another 2+ years, if ever).  While I appreciate your support passing the VA Mission Act, it means nothing without implementation.

Sincerely,

Alex Burum,

Elizabeth Dole Fellow/Veteran Advocate


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