Connolly, Ciscomani Introduce Veteran Fraud Reimbursement Act
Washington, June 13, 2023
Today, Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA) and Congressman Juan Ciscomani (R-AZ) introduced the Veteran Fraud Reimbursement Act, bipartisan legislation to make it easier for veterans with disabilities to be made financially whole in the event they are defrauded of their benefits by allowing the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) to reimburse victims of fraud without first meeting unnecessary bureaucratic requirements. Connolly previously introduced the legislation in the 117th Congress.
“Our veterans have sacrificed enough already,” said Connolly. “They shouldn’t be asked to also sacrifice their peace of mind in the event they are defrauded of their hard-earned benefits. I’m proud to team up with Rep. Ciscomani to ensure our veterans can be quickly and easily reimbursed without jumping through unnecessary bureaucratic hoops.”
“Our veterans have rightfully earned the benefits they receive, and in the event they are defrauded of these benefits, the last thing they should face is the burden of bureaucratic red tape,” said Ciscomani. “This bipartisan legislation will allow our veterans to be swiftly and efficiently reimbursed if they do fall victim to fraud. I’m proud to join Rep. Connolly in introducing this effort to better serve those who served our country.”
In January 2021, Congress enacted the Johnny Isakson and David P. Roe, M.D. Veterans Health Care and Benefits Improvement Act. The bill included a provision meant to improve the VBA fiduciary program, which helps deliver benefits to veterans who cannot otherwise manage their finances. Unfortunately, one unintended consequence of the provision is that all cases of benefits misuse now require what is known as an internal negligence determination by VBA before a veteran who is a victim of fraud can be made financially whole.
In a July 21, 2021 report, the VA Office of the Inspector General (OIG) highlighted the significant wait times defrauded veterans in the VA fiduciary program face due to the universal negligence determination requirement. Some veterans even died before seeing their reimbursements.
The Veteran Fraud Reimbursement Act would allow the VBA to conduct a statistically valid analysis of the misuse cases to determine the rate and nature of negligence on the part of the VBA. The negligence determination would ultimately become a part of a quality assurance measure conducted after the affected veteran had been reimbursed.