Furloughed VA Closes Benefits Offices, Stops Health IT Work

Jennifer Bresnick | EHR Intelligence | October 10, 2013

Almost 3000 IT workers and 7000 Veterans Benefits Association employees have been forced to halt work on the enormous backlog of disability claims due to the government shutdown, NextGov reports.  After boasting of significant progress cutting down wait times and processing thousands of languishing claims for disabled veterans, VA Secretary Eric Shinseki has closed the doors of all 56 regional VBA offices and halted development on the new electronic claims processing system due to lack of funding.

Improving the benefits process is one of the VA’s biggest health IT initiatives, intended to compliment the stalled integration of EHR data with the Department of Defense.  Veterans seeking financial compensation for combat injuries must often wait years to receive benefits.  The queue ballooned to nearly a million stagnated cases before Shinseki’s latest push to clear the backlog due to the past decade of foreign wars.