MMQB: Military, Veteran Pay Cuts Included in CBO Report
Military pay and veterans benefits are again moving to the center of budgetary discussions.
For years, some veterans advocates, including myself, have been forecasting that veterans benefits would get their turn on the chopping block.
In response to our inability to advocate for ourselves in an effective voting block, politicians may be swayed by the CBO report under the guise of budgetary responsibility. All the while they will burn up tax dollars on pork barrel spending.
More on this in a second.
Hi and welcome to another edition of Monday Morning Quarterback for veterans. I am your host, Benjamin Krause.
This week, we will cover a CBO report supporting cuts to both. We will also cover:
- VA Malpractice on Rise
- Dental Insurance for Veterans
Before getting into the topics, lets take a quick look at VA statistics this week.
VA Stats – Worst Midwest VARO for Disability Compensation
Chicago is the proud owner of the worst overall disability compensation processing number in the Midwest, lagging well behind the national average.
It takes an average of 523 days to rate a claim there. The average for the same as it relates to homeless veterans is 415 days. Both of these are numbers are radically beyond the national average and the average in the Midwest.
The fastest VARO is Saint Paul, which averages 114 days to rate a claim and 46 days to rate the claim of a homeless veteran.
All VA Regional Offices in the Midwest are still well behind VA’s target of rating a claim within 80 days.
Military, Veteran Pay Cuts Target of CBO Report
It was reported yesterday that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has targeted military pay and veterans benefits as one of many sources of savings for the US budget from 2014-2023.
The report contains over 100 suggestions to lawmakers about possible sources for savings. Military pay cuts were on the list. So too were disability benefits for veterans.
Military pay raise cap
From 2000-2010, Congress approved pay increases for military of .5% more than the same projected increase in private sector wage growth. This makes sense since military pay is generally less than the equivalent job in the civilian sector.
The report stated that military pay raises could be held to .5% lower than civilian pay raises with only a minor impact on military force retention. The proposed option would save $25bl from 2014-2023.
I have looked into this issue before. The reason retention would be impacted in only a limited manner has a lot to do with the economic options of those who are enlisted.
Since moving to an all volunteer force, the military has focused its recruiting on the more impoverished sectors of Americans, which seems to be growing as the US middle class shrinks.
Without comparable options for upward economic momentum, those stuck in poverty will have limited options other than to enlist in the military, in many instances.
Where this is true, the pay reduction is little more than a poor tax since these individuals are stuck in longer enlistment contracts or with few options outside of the military.
Officers in the military will be impacted at a lower rate than the enlisted troops, which are currently using food stamps in some instances due to lower pay rates.
Veterans disability cuts
The report highlighted that the government could save $20bl from 2014-2023 by restricting disability from certain diseases. The diseases are: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; arteriosclerotic heart disease; hemorrhoids; uterine fibroids; multiple sclerosis; Crohn’s disease and osteoarthritis.
The argument goes that VA should modify its disability compensation list to comport to disabilities civilians would be eligible for from civilian work.
This, of course, is asinine.
Working in the military is not like working as a civilian. The risk is much higher. You cannot quit if you do not like an order. And, you are required to travel to hazardous places to support missions you may not agree with.
If your manager at Pizza Hut tells you to do something you don’t agree with, you can always quit.
Here is a thought.
I think if the military intends to treat military personnel like civilians when it comes to compensation, then they should allow military personnel to quit whenever they choose.
Source: Congressional Budget Office
VA Malpractice Claims on the Rise
While lawmakers are focusing on cutting funding for military pay and veteran disability, there has been a surprising surge in medical malpractice payouts for VA.
Since 2003, VA has paid settlements and judgments of $843 ml; last year alone accounted for $98 ml in malpractice payouts.
But does this mean VA health care is less safe than civilian care?
According to lawmakers on the Republican side, VA is not doing enough to keep veterans safe. Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-Ga., says there is no accountability for VA to encourage their doctors to avoid unsafe practices.
Meanwhile, experts in the field claim VA is doing no worse than the civilian sector. These experts point out that VA has seen a dramatic increase in usage over the past few years. That rise in usage has seen a similarly increase in the relative numbers malpractice claims.
One Harvard professor and physician had this to say:
Still, the VA may be doing no worse than the private sector, said Dr. Anupam Jena, a physician at Massachusetts General Hospital and an assistant professor at Harvard University.
Jena noted that the VA ends up paying plaintiffs in about 25 percent of cases. Private-sector health systems pay in about 20 percent, according to a study he participated in that surveyed 40,000 doctors. It was published in The New England Journal of Medicine.
“Are VA doctors worse than other doctors?” Jena said. “No.” The AJC analyzed payments to 4,426 veterans and family members from 2003 to 2012. Over that period, the number of patients treated each year by the VA increased. So did the number of malpractice payouts and the dollar amount. Each of the numbers fluctuated from year to year but trended upward.
Comparing the first half of the 10-year period to the second half, the average number of VA patients grew by 10 percent, the average number of annual payouts increased 12 percent, and the average cost to taxpayers rose 14 percent.
VA offers Dental Insurance to Vets, finally
To end on a positive note, VA has finally been able to create a plan for veterans to receive dental insurance. It is called VA Dental Insurance Program (VADIP).
This should come as welcomed news for many of the recent veterans who have inexplicably had their teeth rot out.
Some months ago, I began getting emails from veterans experiencing strange dental symptoms. Teeth were falling out or rotting out of the mouths of many of these veterans without much explanation.
Sadly, many of these veterans are unable to get dental care from VA. For whatever reason, dental care is one of the trickiest benefits to receive. Compounding this, regulations between regional offices are different, which has resulted in veterans not having access in one VHA center when they previously received care at a different location.
Now, these veterans and others will be able to select insurance plans for rates between $10-$30 per month.
I’ll give them three cheers on this one.
Source: Navy Times
The article was informative; however, it has been apparent ever since Obama took office that our active, reserve and retired military personnel are very low on the importance totem pole, according to the Liberalist agenda. For years I belonged to various Veterans’ organizations (NCOA, Marine Corps League, VFW, American Legion, etc.) which all made great claims to be fighting for Veterans’ Rights. Yet, not one word about any of these organizations makes national or local news. Not even FOX which indeed covers many stories that the general media disregard, has ever covered news indicating that any Veterans’ group has hounded Congress in the way that so many lobbyists do. We have been, and continue to be a group who have done great service for America, but, who have no voice in the manner in which the Liberals wish us to be treated. Yet, I continually get requests for money to ensure my voice is heard from any number of “Veterans” organizations.
Balderdash and Hog Wash! My money stays in my pocket. Let the Liberals fight future wars and see how safe and secure America is then.
Furthermore, they mention on that last even taxing Social Security Benefits!!!!!!! WTF!!! As it stands, MANY either retired or Disabled Social Security Beneficiaries cannot AFFORD **all** their medications.
Wonder how many members of Congress would like to have their lunch/dinner OR their mother/grandparent’s meals replaced with cat food???
How about we just take away all expense accounts from these out of touch Representatives?
how about we replace their high-end catered luncheons with an ALL “9 Lives or Friskies” selection or pate`?
I sent this CBO Report to MSBC News Desk as well as others because thus far, this CBO list of proposed asinine and heartless cuts has not raised it’s head on Main Stream Media that I have seen.
I really REALLY cannot stand Rep. Paul Ryan!!
The “link works” but no longer takes one to that list it was once pointed at–FYI
THE CBO Link is no longer working! It DID work earlier this morning and just wondering if they simply scrubbed their website because of outraged veterans calling Representatives?
What pissed me off about that list of possible cuts is NOWHERE on list was there a suggestion to curtail the top 1% from benefiting at the expense of rest of us as far as hefty tax increases.
Hope Veterans realize that Military Contracting Companies like Halliburton have **many** subsidiaries but since Halliburton’s HQ is in Middle East in Qatar (sp?), their offshore status insures a HUGE tax haven….want to make cuts even REMOTELY close to military, they need to go after the BIG 8 Ton Gorilla related to DOD….**not Veterans**!
That list of possible cuts SMELLS of Rep. Paul Ryan like penguins or camels at a zoo!!
I like what Rich said, if all Vets could lobby under one group we could be powerful.
Thank you for having the Disabled Veterans. org Bejamin! I have read your informative post on veterans “inability to advocate for themselves” remark and that really isn’t exactly true…politicians really don’t vote their conscience or lately are more worried about what snack’s and boondoggle they might take on our dime! The Government has it’s way almost all the time and it is proven time and time again with lies and deceit much like Obama and his slave mentality when it comes to certain issues concerning not only veterans but the American people. In Northern California, a veterans group for this generation of war veterans tried to take the issue’s of better Mental Health in 2007 to court and they did, only to be flat out denied any Mental Health improvements, and later the same group about six years later again went to the Supreme Court this time for better Health Care in the Northern California Veterans Administration Medical Health Care System and they actually WON their case…the very next day the same Supreme Court Judge over turned his decision and denied those veterans their case. Someone is shaking our hands and at the same time shanking the United States Veteran in the back but again they close their doors and eat those doughnut’s and drink that coffee and all they have to say is next please as they wipe the mouth on the “American Flag” and those that were willing to put their lives on the line so that we don’t have the same type scenario here in these United States as we do in the Middle East and wars long past. There is already to much violence in the United States as it is!
I just saw a doctor at the Martinez, California VA medical Clinic, I have seen this person for several years and while talking to him he recommended that I have a MRI for back issues that I went to an “OUTSIDE” real “Doctor” for and that Doctor put in a pain management device in my body to help control the pains and other issues with my back. Boston Scientific provided this implant and I have not taken one pain pill for my back issue’s since for going on four years! He knew this, so he says, and changed the subject…I asked him what would be the other reason I can’t have the MRI? He looked at me with that deer caught in the head lights stare…”nothing” was his response! I looked this person in the eye’s and said, “I will tell you why and that is that I have shrapnel in my brain from being wounded in Vietnam and a bullet in my side will patching up a wounded man in my platoon!” He had no idea that I was even wounded!!! This is an example of one of many dumbshitery doctors that work in this VA system and if I could sue them for what they haven’t done in my best interest and all the misdiagnosed and worry they have caused me and my family I would and will. I now have private health care plus, I am retired from the military…not because I went twenty years but from my wounds received in Vietnam. I have the luxury of the second opinion and what I have found out is that the VA in my area is pure crap! I have talked to hundreds of veterans from other states and it is 97% poor medical treatment from the VA, so it just isn’t me…one word of advice is get copies of all your records from the sordid VA and don’t depend on your NSO or VSO to do anything if they have to put any thought or work into…from the many I have talked too I have met one and talked to another that knew what they were talking about and not just quoting off a computer screen. The Title 38 of the Code of Federal Regulations has all the information that the VA is supposed to do for us but they do not even pay it no mind! FTVA!
You are right. We have been getting it tucked to us since Valley Forge. And now our kids and grandchildren are going to get it too considering our past record in caring for “those who have borne the battle”. So, we shall see what the government has in store for us in the near future. One thing I will say is that veterans are our own worst enemies. For the most part we expend more energy screwing each other rather than getting up off our collective 4th point of contact and being a real force to make changes. Each organization has a percentage of our “brothers” who can’t get along in the sandbox. And they gum up the works for everybody. I have seen organizations on the state level that were actually tied up by a few disgruntled individuals. As long as there is division, there will be DIVISION. Go figure. I’m just a retired 100 percenter seeing it the way I see it.
Ben…….. If we act now and put up that stone wall, Politicians will not take away those benefits we earned. So you are right in telling those of us on the Comp list that we need to stay ever-vigil to these absurd cuts.
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