WEST HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH)– US Senator Chris Murphy is talking to veterans in West Haven Monday. The meeting comes after allegations that delays in care at VA hospitals across the country may have cost lives.
The head of the nation’s veterans affairs himself knows something is wrong, and is making changes to top management in the wake of a scandal involving VA hospitals in Arizona lying about how long veterans have to wait to see doctors.
But in general, here in Connecticut, we are hitting our marks in terms of wait times,” said Sen. Chris Murphy, (D) Connecticut.
Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy came to West Haven to meet with VA officials, who say local wait times are actually pretty good
“We did have two reviews in the last two weeks related to wait time delays that are popping up around the country. Both reviews showed that we have some best practices here in Connecticut and our issues are not the same as the ones we’re seeing across the rest of the country,” said Gerald Culliton, VA Connecticut Director.
But Veterans in Connecticut still have a problem, and that is with paperwork.
“There is still no justification for the length of time that it takes for someone to qualify for health care benefits or for a pension,” said Murphy.
Senator Murphy’s office put out some numbers from the year 2012 that say the average wait time for a veteran in Connecticut to hear about a pending claim is 213 days. That’s about 7 months. in other words, if a veteran put in a claim today, on average he would hear about it around Christmas.
The Senator says that is not so much a problem with the VA system as it is with computer systems…not being compatible.
“There is still an inability for the department of defense database to talk to the VA database when it comes to qualifying veterans for benefits. It is time for those two information systems to be merged, which would allow for veterans to be qualified to come here to the VA much more easily,” said Murphy.
Senator Murphy also says the VA better get a handle on the national problem over wait times and allegedly lying about wait times, or he says he will calls for changes at the top of the department.