November 20, 2020

Warren Joins Tester, Colleagues to Slam VA Privatization of Compensation and Pension Exams for Disabled Veterans

Lawmakers outline concerns over outsourcing of exams critical to providing disabled veterans with earned compensation and pension

Text of Letter (PDF)

Washington, DC – United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) joined Ranking Member Jon Tester (D-Mont.) of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee today, along with nine colleagues, in expressing grave concerns over the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) recent decision to increase the privatization of Compensation and Pension (C&P) exams, negatively impacting services and benefits provided to disabled veterans. 

“We were alarmed to learn that VA’s vision for the future of the C&P program is to fully utilize private contractors to take over the VA personnel’s workload, which we believe has the potential for serious long-term negative impacts on the services and benefits provided to our nation’s veterans,” the senators wrote. “As you know, when Congress established the pilot program to contract C&P exams with non-VA medical professionals, it was done in order to supplement VA’s internal capacity to perform exams to help veterans, not supplant it.”

C&P examinations are a key component of ensuring veterans receive their earned disability benefits from VA. Eliminating associated VA personnel conducting these exams—in addition to outsourcing examinations to private contractors at a potentially enormous cost to American taxpayers—would severely impact veterans and VA employees across the country, especially those in rural America. 

The senators continued, “Given’s VA’s admission that there is a 350,000 backlog of C&P exams throughout the nation, and more than 480,000 claims are awaiting decisions, we fail to see the logic for continuing to reduce VA’s internal capacity to perform these exams as VA already has experienced, qualified, and well-trained personnel ready to perform these duties. Veterans with unique health issues and conditions including Military Sexual Trauma, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Traumatic Brain Injury, and health impacts as a result of toxic exposures, benefit greatly from being seen by a VA medical professional compared to someone with less experience with veterans’ unique medical and mental health conditions. We have concerns that these external contracted medical examiners, with less experience evaluating veterans’ unique health conditions, could contribute to a growth in appeals when non-VA examiners misdiagnose these veterans.”

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, Senator Warren has been working to ensure veterans are protected from this highly contagious and deadly virus:   

  • On October 2, 2020, she joined Senator Tester in calling on the VA to step up its monitoring and support of these long-term care facilities, to better protect the health and lives of veterans—especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • On April 3, 2020, she led a letter with other members of the MA Congressional delegation to the VA New England Healthcare System seeking additional VA resources to help State Veterans Homes (SVHs) stop the spread of COVID-19 and prevent similar outbreaks at VA-operated long-term care facilities across the Commonwealth.

  • On May 5, 2020, Senators Warren, Tester, Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), and Bob Casey (D-Pa.) also requested the Government Accountability Office (GAO) review oversight by the VA of quality of care at State Veterans Homes. On May 14, the GAO agreed to conduct this investigation. 

  • On June 24, 2020, Senator Warren released a statement on the completion of the independent investigation in the COVID-19 outbreak at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home.

  • On June 26, 2020, Senator Warren led a letter with Senator Markey and Representative Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) to Governor Charlie Baker requesting an independent investigation into the COVID-19 outbreak at Chelsea Soldiers' Home (CSH).