The way the Department of Veterans Affairs awards disability claims needs to completely change, Representative Bob Filner (D-Calif.) said Tuesday night. According to a recent report from the Bay Citizen, the average wait for a disability claim to be approved is 313 days, while the department tries to verify that the claim is justified.
"People die before they get that final adjudication, or they may commit suicide," he said, speaking on The Rachel Maddow Show. "It is so bad that these things occur." Filner, who is running for mayor of San Francisco, has a novel plan to overhaul veterans' health care: he wants to make it more like the IRS.
"20 years or so, the IRS was totally dysfunctional," said Filner, a ranking member of the House Committee for Veterans Affairs. "Now, when you filed your 1040 on April 15th, if you had a refund coming, you would get it back in three weeks, guaranteed." Just as with the IRS, he argued, veterans' health care forms should be accepted subject to audit instead of needing to be approved. "Then they could get their check and get their life together, and move on right away."
VA groups largely oppose Filner's plan, which he said is because they are "tied in" to the current system and just want to tinker around the edges.
"We want to talk about the glory of the war, how patriotic it is, but we don't want to focus on the costs of war, what happens when these men and women come back," he said. "We don't want to pay too much attention to it, because it undercuts what every government wants, and that's support for the war it carries out."