WASHINGTON — The Department of Veterans Affairs plans to announce today that it will fully automate how it pays claims for illnesses related to exposure to the chemical Agent Orange to keep an overburdened system from collapse.
It is the department's first effort at automating claims processing in its 80-year history, says VA chief technology officer Peter Levin. It comes as the agency struggles to cut a backlog of more than 1 million disability claims, appeals and other cases.
The system "is likely to break" if nothing is done, Levin says.
"Look, the bottom line is why the hell they didn't do (automation) 30 years ago," says John Rowan, national president of Vietnam Veterans of America. "The question is whether they will do it right."