PACT Act, Fraud, and Enrollment: VA Secretary Press Conference

PACT Act, Fraud, and Enrollment: VA Secretary Press Conference


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WASHINGTON DC: PACT Act, Fraud, and Enrollment: VA Secretary Press Conference - 9-22-2-2023

VA Secretary Denis McDonough held a press conference to discuss the department's efforts to prevent fraud against veterans. He announced the launch of a new website, va.gov/v-safe, that provides education and resources to help veterans avoid scams. So far in 2022, VA has identified over $50 million in fraudulent claims and helped recover nearly $850,000 in stolen benefits to return to veterans.

"I was pleasantly surprised by my notification of VA's Livestream on Parade Deck.  The quality was great and I'm encouraged by the significant gains in veteran services." 

- Army Veteran, Dr. Doreen Vargo

McDonough cautioned veterans to be wary of unaccredited companies illegally charging fees to assist with initial benefits claims, something VA helps with for free. VA has proposed legislation to reinstate criminal penalties for this type of fraud. When utilizing a claims representative, veterans should verify the representative is VA-accredited by searching on VA's website.

McDonough also provided updates on VA's preparations for a potential government shutdown next week. He assured that healthcare services and benefits processing will continue uninterrupted during a funding lapse. However, he acknowledged that public-facing offices would close, outreach would halt, and other services like career counseling would be limited.

The Secretary highlighted that the deadline for post-9/11 combat veterans who have not enrolled in VA healthcare to sign up and get coverage for life is September 30th. He reported a significant increase in enrollment for this group since the outreach campaign began last month.

Finally, McDonough addressed the growing disability claims backlog resulting from the PACT Act, stating that claims are being processed faster than ever before in VA history. He encouraged veterans to keep filing their earned claims, noting that the backlog as a percentage of total claims is much lower than during 2013's peak. McDonough said that though the backlog number will continue rising in the near-term, VA's increased productivity

Talking Points:

  • VA Secretary Denis McDonough discussed efforts to prevent fraud against veterans. New website va.gov/v-safe launched to educate veterans on scams.

  • VA has identified over $50 million in fraudulent claims so far in 2022 and returned $847k of stolen benefits to veterans.

  • Unaccredited companies are illegally charging fees to veterans filing initial claims. VA has proposed reinstating criminal penalties for this.

  • Veterans should only work with VA-accredited representatives listed on VA's website. VA helps file claims for free.

  • VA is prepared for a potential government shutdown next week. Healthcare and benefits processing will continue uninterrupted.

  • The deadline for uninsured post-9/11 combat veterans to enroll in VA healthcare is September 30th. VA is conducting outreach campaign.

  • The VA claims backlog continues to grow due to PACT Act claims, but is being processed faster than ever before in VA history.

Action Items for Veterans:

  • Visit va.gov/v-safe for fraud prevention tips and resources. Report scams to VA and the FTC.

  • Verify representatives are VA-accredited before paying any fees by searching on VA's website.

  • Post-9/11 combat veterans should enroll in VA healthcare by September 30th to get coverage.

  • Continue filing earned claims and benefits. VA is processing faster than ever and will reduce backlog over time.

Key Take Aways:

  • VA is taking an aggressive, department-wide approach to identify and prevent fraud against veterans.

  • Veterans should be very cautious about paying any fees related to initial benefits claims.

  • VA is processing disability claims faster than any time in history despite the growing backlog.

  • Uninsured combat veterans have a limited time left to enroll in VA health care and get coverage for life.

Resources:

Pact-Act eligibility and enrollment

Follow the Dept. of VA on ParadeDeck.com

PACT Act, Fraud, and Enrollment: VA Secretary Press Conference

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