For 2012, there are three policy priorities for the Veterans Affairs. The scariest is the Veterans Benefits Administration decision to rewrite veterans disability compensation. Yikes! They cannot get it right now. I’m not sure rewriting the regulations will make it better. Here is how you get involved.
For veterans, VA policy is an abyss. We don’t know how to change it. We don’t know how it got there, in the first place.
Let me be the first to assure you VA policy did not originate with Adam and Eve. VA policy did not originate with Moses or the Egyptians. No, VA policy is a recent human creation that can be affected by veterans today.
Our first stop is the Office of Regulation Policy and Management. http://www.va.gov/orpm/. This is the dashboard of the mothership.
Our first stop is Regulation Management. According to the VA:
“The Secretary established Regulations Management, 02REG, as a permanent office to remedy long-standing deficiencies in VA’s rulemaking process. 02REG provides centralized supervision and coordination of regulation development, tracking, control, policy integration, and economic impact analyses for proposed VA regulations. It implements strategic focus and direction for VA’s decentralized regulation development process. 02REG tracks and eliminates unnecessary delays, proactively coordinates with all parties, eliminates inconsistencies in the regulations themselves and the development process, and ensures early integration of regulatory policies into VA’s overall policy plan.”
The page links you to the following information:
- VA’s Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions
- VA’s Statement of Regulatory Priorities
- Legal Research Aids
- Rulemaking Links
- Regulatory Flexibility Act.
As most know, bureaucracies can be a hilarious mess of regulations and white noise. Under VA’s Statement of Regulatory Priorities, you will find that the biggest regulatory priority is to review existing regulations. One would think VA would already know what regulations they have, since VA wrote them.
Veterans Affairs Regulatory Plans for 2012
1. VA Compensation and Pension Regulation Rewrite Project
“Since 2004, the Department of Veterans Affairs (V) has published 20 Notices of Proposed Rulemaking to reorganize and rewrite its compensation and pension regulations in a logical, claimant-focused, and user-friendly format. The intended effect of the proposed revisions was to assist claimants, beneficiaries, and VA personnel in locating and understanding these regulations. Several veterans service organizations have requested that VA republish all these regulations together to allow the public another opportunity to comment. This proposed rule would provide that opportunity.”
2. Accessibility Standards for Medical Diagnostic Equipment
“This regulation will establish minimum technical criteria to ensure that medical equipment used for diagnostic purposes by health professionals in (or in conjunction with) physician’s offices, clinics, emergency rooms, hospitals, and other medical settings is accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities.”
3. Caregiver Program
“The purpose of the caregivers benefits program is to provide certain medical, travel, training, and financial benefits to caregivers of veterans and certain servicemembers who were seriously injured in the line of duty on or after September 11, 2001.”
Concerns of DisabledVeterans.org
My biggest concern is the rewrite. The cost will be $281,316 to rewrite the regulations governing veterans disability compensation. However, the actual cost to veterans, without proper oversight, could be substantial for two reasons. First, talk on Capitol Hill suggests the changes will reduce actual disability compensation by quite a bit. Veterans service organizations have vowed to ensure the VA will not alter the status quo by too much, and hopefully they will be successful.
Second, the rewrite could cause further delays in the disability compensation backlog. The VA is totally incompetent at applying its own regulations. How quickly will they adapt to the new regulations? Proponents of the rewrite believe the new language will make the claims process easier. By simplifying confusion regulations, the rewrite could reduce the claims backlog. I hope the proponents are right on this point.
The big take away for veterans should be this: things are about to change. Pay attention to announcements in the media about the rewrite and chime in to your elected officials if you think it is going in the wrong direction.