Congressmen Steny H. Hoyer (MD-5), Chris Van Hollen (MD-8), Dutch Ruppersberger (MD-2), and John Sarbanes (MD-3) held a meeting with the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) Secretary Bob McDonald to discuss the July 2014 Inspector General’s Report on the VA’s Baltimore Regional Office and what actions the VA is taking to ensure that these issues are not repeated in the future. According to the IG report, which was issued July 14, “a supervisor had inappropriately stored 8,000 documents and 80 claims folders in an office for an extensive period of time and “1,500 documents were found to be inappropriately stored in employees workspaces,” including unprocessed mail and completed ratings decisions. In addition to the poor operating procedures highlighted in the IG report, there continues to be a significant claims backlog at the Baltimore office.
“I was pleased to meet with Secretary McDonald yesterday to discuss how the Department of Veteran Affairs is working to meet the needs of veterans at the Baltimore Regional Office and throughout the country,” stated Congressman Hoyer. “Our veterans deserve to receive timely care and the best treatment possible. I look forward to continuing to work with Secretary McDonald and the Maryland Congressional Delegation to ensure that the backlog at the VA Baltimore Regional Office is eliminated and to ensure that Maryland veterans have access to the health care they have earned.”
“The VA Inspector General’s report on the Baltimore Regional Office was appalling,” said Congressman Van Hollen. “While a lot of work needs to be done to address these concerns and build back trust among Maryland’s veterans, based on our conversation with Secretary McDonald yesterday, I am confident that progress is being made. I’ll continue to push for accountability and swift enactment of reforms so that all veterans receive the care they deserve.”
“Many of us in Congress are working hard to provide our nation’s veterans with the most state-of-the-art medicine available, but those efforts are wasted if patients must wait nearly three months to see their doctor,” said Congressman Ruppersberger. “I am pleased to see that much progress has made to reduce wait times, and I look forward to the day when the backlog at our local office is completely eliminated.”
“Long delays and unacceptable backlogs at the VA Baltimore Regional Office deny veterans the benefits that they have earned,” said Congressman Sarbanes. “Secretary McDonald is already taking important steps to improve VA operations, but we must continue to provide the necessary resources and oversight to ensure that veterans in Baltimore, throughout Maryland and across the nation are receiving service they deserve.”