Washington, D.C. - Wednesday, Chairman Phil Roe, M.D. (R-Tenn.) appeared on Sirius XM’s The Morning Briefing with Tim Farley to discuss the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) contract disability examinations and general 115th Congress achievements on behalf of veterans.
Chairman Roe started the interview by highlighting the Committee's work investigating VA oversight of contract disability examinations:
“When we look at one of the problems we've had with disability claims, it is that it takes forever sometimes, Tim, to get these done. We passed a bill a year and a half ago that will expedite that. You can't expedite a disability claim unless you have accurate information.”
Roe went on to discuss how around 20 years ago, Congress approved a contract position for medical professionals outside VA to do disability examinations:
"VA's expanded that program really without the information technology systems to monitor whether they are getting quality and accuracy. Well, if you are getting an inaccurate claim it doesn't mean that they are - they just don't have any way to monitor that."
He continued on about Congress passing, and President Trump signing into law, the VA MISSION Act:
"It does three major things. One it's how veterans get care outside the VA, number two a caregiver bill, and three an asset review. We fully funded the Choice program. I could go on and on. We've passed over 70 bills in our Committee this year and 29 of them have been signed in to law.”
Roe then spoke of the need for additional work to be done to lower veteran suicide rates:
"Something that really concerns me Tim, is the Veterans’ Suicide rate. In 2003 we were spending about 2.3 billion dollars, a lot of money on PTSD treatment and so forth to help lower suicide prevention. We set up call centers. We are now spending about 8 billion dollars in this fiscal year, and yet we haven't moved the needle at all in the number of veterans committing suicide.”
He concluded by noting the immense bipartisanship of the Committee and his belief that the Committee will continue to make great bipartisan progress in the 116th Congress:
"I think it is the most bipartisan committee in the Congress. We check this Republican, Democrat stuff at the door...When we did the VA MISSION Act I sat down with every single member of the Committee, both Republican and Democrat at some point and worked on this bill together. And I think we will do that. I think if it's Mark Takano or Julia Brownley, either one, I've worked with them for years and I look forward to it. I don't think it's going to change a whole lot because of the mission of the VA Committee."