In Major Cities, VA Benefits Claims Are Over 60 Percent Backlogged

Cortney O'Brien

5/27/2014 11:00:00 AM - Cortney O'Brien

The disorganization at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is just the latest scandal to taint the Obama White House. Somehow, the department still managed to tout some cautiously “good news” that its number of backlogged benefits claims had been cut by 44 percent in the past year.

That positive trend, however, is not evident in some of the country's major cities. Jackson, Miss., Reno, NV, Louisville, Ky., Baltimore, Md. and Buffalo, NY all have a backlogged claim record of over 60 percent.

In Buffalo, the fifth worst, 61 percent of claims are backlogged, with each claim pending for an average of 184 days, according to The Buffalo News. The wait time is over six months for the 7,200 cases still pending.

An exasperated Congressman Brian Higgins (D-NY 26th District) responded to these statistics with disgust:

"I have no confidence in the leadership of the VA. But I'm most concerned about a fix to this because it’s a lot of people that are waiting.

This requires a response from the White House, to be decisive, as to what the fix is to the problem in Buffalo and other areas throughout the nation where Buffalo is the fifth worst.”

This isn't the first time the Buffalo VA has demonstrated its carelessness. Last January, a routine pharmacy inspection revealed that the Buffalo VA had exposed 700 patients to HIV for reusing insulin pens. A few months later, federal officials revealed that thousands of records had likely been misplaced or damaged.

As to these particular incidents, Higgins frustratingly says the Buffalo VA has been “less than responsive”:

"They lack transparency. They're not forthcoming with information as to why."

Higgins said they’ll be making inquiries Tuesday to try and get some answers or accountability.

“It’s unacceptable. We need some answers we need some answers right away. If it requires the resignation of the current secretary so be it, but I’m most concerned about a quick fix to what appears to be a systemic problem.”

But, if the White House is any indication, he’s not likely to get either anytime soon.