Hearing to Consider Pending Nomination of Denis R. McDonough, Nominee to be Secretary of Veterans Affairs
Date: Wednesday, January 27, 2021
Time: 03:01 PM
Location: SD-106, Dirksen Senate Office Building
Date: Wednesday, January 27, 2021
Time: 03:01 PM
Location: SD-106, Dirksen Senate Office Building
Today, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) proposed to establish the COVID–19 Veterans Assistance Partial Claim Payment program (COVID– VAPCP), a temporary program to help veterans return to making normal loan payments on a VA-guaranteed loan (guaranteed loan) after exiting a Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) forbearance period.
Under this proposed program, a servicer could consider a partial claim option after the servicer has evaluated all loss-mitigation options for feasibility. If the veteran qualifies and opts to move forward, VA would act as a mortgage investor of last resort by purchasing the amount of indebtedness necessary to bring the veteran’s guaranteed loan current. The veteran would have up to 60 months to defer repayment to VA and up 120 months to repay the loan in full, with the interest rate fixed at 1 percent per annum.
VA announced today, that three tools are available to reschedule an appointment:
When actually going to a VA healthcare facility, instead of a virtual appointment, wear a mask that covers mouth and nose, and complete on-site the VA COVID-19 symptom screening questions.
This VA Final Rulemaking, that was effective October 7, 2020, extends by 90 days the deadlines for former members insured under Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI) to apply for Veterans’ Group Life Insurance (VGLI) coverage following separation from service in order to address the inability of former members directly or indirectly affected by the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID–19) public health emergency to purchase VGLI. The final rule is in effect for one year from June 11, 2020, the date that the interim final rule was published in the Federal Register. [Until June 11, 2021].
See also https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2020-06-11/pdf/2020-12559.pdf, the Interim Final Rule that was published in the Federal Register on June 11, 2020.
In early October 2020, the U.S. Senate sent a bi-partisan bill, known as the “Whole Veteran Act,” [H.R. 2359], to the President for signature – it is part of a government wide effort to prevent veteran suicides, and make holistic mental healthcare more available to service women and men. See https://www.va.gov/WHOLEHEALTH/index.asp
VA expanded on October 1, 2020 the Program of Comprehensive Assistance For Family Caregivers, which enhances 24/7 care from family and loved ones providers. VA announced in July 2020 that this program will cover veterans who served in the military on or before May 7, 1975. Veterans covered are required to have a single or combined service-connected disability rating of 70% or higher, and meet other general criteria. In part, geographic location with determine the actual provided dollar amounts.
On September 11, 2020 the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, Committee on Respiratory Health Effects of Airborne Hazards Exposures in the Southwest Asia Theater of Military Operations, released the subject Report. In part, the Report said that:
“Southwest Asia theater veterans were exposed to a broad range of potentially hazardous airborne agents. These include such regional environmental exposures as air pollution from dusts; local point and area sources such as traffic, waste management, and local industries; and the aeroallergens and microbial agents present in the theater. Exposures related to military operations are also contributors, such as exhaust from heaters, military vehicles, and aircraft as well as smoke from structural fires, explosions, burning oil wells, or burn pits.” Continuing,
“CONCLUSIONS REGARDING THE ASSOCIATION BETWEEN IN-THEATER AIRBORNE HAZARDS AND RESPIRATORY HEALTH OUTCOMES
The health effects of these airborne hazards were likely influenced by factors common to military operations in Southwest Asia. These effect modifiers include temperature extremes, psychosocial stress, sleep deprivation, and noise.
The committee formulated a list of 27 health outcomes for their literature review, delineated in Box S-2 [below]. The list included the conditions explicitly listed in the Statement of Task and those that the committee believed to be “of great concern to veterans.”
Of these outcomes, none met the criteria for sufficient evidence of an association. The evidence for respiratory symptoms—which included chronic persistent cough, shortness of breath (dyspnea), and wheezing—met the criteria for limited or suggestive evidence of an association for both veterans who served in the 1990–1991 Gulf War and those who served in the post-9/11 conflicts. Studies considered in previous National Academies reports were relatively consistent in reporting associations between deployment and more prevalent self-reported respiratory symptoms in theater veterans, and outcomes from more recent studies are largely in line with those findings. Importantly, a recent study that compared symptom reporting before, during, and after deployment found that the self-reported frequency of symptoms was increased both during and after deployment relative to pre-deployment. Many of the studies considered, however, were weakened by bias induced by the self-selection of their participants (which may have led to people being more likely to participate if they had respiratory symptoms than if they did not) and by the lack of control for cigarette smoking, which is known to exacerbate symptoms. These concerns, while serious, were consistent with a classification in the limited or suggestive category. Lastly, the committee
Respiratory Health Outcomes Addressed
Non-Cancer Respiratory Disorders
Upper Airway Disorders
Non-Infectious Lower Airway
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
Interstitial Lung Diseases
Acute eosinophilic pneumonia Hypersensitivity pneumonitis Idiopathic interstitial pneumonia
Infectious Lower Airway
Acute bronchitis Pneumonia
Chronic persistent cough Shortness of breath (dyspnea)
Esophageal cancer Laryngeal cancer
Vocal cord dysfunction
Constrictive bronchiolitis Emphysema
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis Pulmonary alveolar proteinosis Sarcoidosis
Oral, nasal, and pharyngeal cancers
Changes in pulmonary function
Mortality due to diseases of the respiratory system
concluded that there is limited or suggestive evidence of no association between deployment to the 1990–1991 Gulf War and changes in lung function.
The committee found that there was inadequate or insufficient information to evaluate the association between service in the Southwest Asia theater and all of the remaining respiratory health outcomes it examined. While there are a variety of reasons for this that vary by the outcome under consideration, one prominent cause was the lack of good exposure characterization. Many studies used deployment to the theater as their only metric of exposure, and this undoubtedly led to people with widely different exposure experiences being grouped together for analysis purposes. Such grouping would be expected to diminish the possibility of observing an effect if one existed if there were large numbers of those with relatively low exposure compared with those with relatively high exposure.
On May 7, 2019 the Department of Veterans Affairs published in the Federal Register, notice of the opportunity for public comment on the proposed collection of certain information by the agency [Under the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) of 1995].
The VA Form 21–0845 is used to release information in its custody or control in the following circumstances: Where the individual identifies the particular information and
consents to its use; for the purpose for which it was collected or a consistent purpose (i.e., a purpose which the individual might have reasonably expected). In part, with respect to the following collection of information, VBA invites comments on: (1) Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of VBA’s functions, including whether the information will have practical utility.
On April 19, 2019 the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) proposed to amend its adjudication regulations, to permit VA to suspend disability compensation payments upon receipt of notice from the Department of Defense (DoD) that the veteran has received, is receiving, or will begin to receive active service pay. This proposed change would reduce the financial impact on veterans associated with receipt of VA disability compensation and active service pay by allowing VA to make necessary adjustments as close in time to the receipt of active service pay as possible.
This proposed change would only apply to compensation payments, not pension. In order to reduce hardships for veterans and improve processing of benefits, VA proposes to amend the current procedural requirements related to the 60-day notice period and take immediate action to suspend compensation payments upon notice of receipt of active service pay from DoD when the veteran has received prior notice that the law prevents concurrent receipt of certain VA benefits and active service pay or VA has received a statement from the veteran indicating knowledge that concurrent receipt of VA benefits and active service pay is prohibited.
Comments must be received on or before June 18, 2019.
Federal Register /Vol. 84, No. 76 / Friday, April 19, 2019
Today, April 10, 2019, VA published a Notice in the Federal Register in compliance with the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) of 1995; this notice announces that the Veterans Benefits Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs, will submit the collection of information abstracted below to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review and comment.
The VA collection of information concerns VA Form 21–526EZ, which is used to collect the information needed to process a fully developed claim for disability compensation and/or related compensation benefits.
A Federal Register Notice with a 60-day comment period soliciting comments on this collection of information was published at 83 FR 224 on November 20, 2018, pages 58690 and 58691. Affected Public: Individuals or Households. Estimated Annual Burden: 498,667 hours. Estimated Average Burden per Respondent: 22 minutes. Frequency of Response: One time. Estimated Number of Respondents 1,360,000