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House Passes Connolly-Ciscomani Veteran Fraud Reimbursement Act

Today, the House of Representatives passed bipartisan legislation introduced by Reps. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) and Juan Ciscomani (R-AZ) to make it easier for veterans with disabilities to be made financially whole in the event they are defrauded of their benefits. The Veteran Fraud Reimbursement Act passed the House by a vote of 413-0.

“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, and I am thrilled the House has passed our legislation today. I look forward to getting this important bill across the finish line in the Senate and to the President’s desk for his signature.”

“In the event our veterans are defrauded of their hard-earned benefits, the last thing they should face is the burden of bureaucratic red tape,” said Ciscomani. “Our bipartisan effort allows our veterans to quickly and efficiently be made financially whole if they do fall victim to fraud. I am thrilled to see our legislation to better serve our veterans pass the House, one step closer to being signed into law.”

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.

Full text of the legislation is available here.

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