Sheheen releases plan for veterans, with footnotes

This just in today from Vincent Sheheen:

Sheheen Releases Plan of Action for SC Veterans

Gubernatorial candidate lays out plan to address delays and obstacles for veterans in-state given severe problems with national VA

Camden, SC. – Today, Sen. Vincent Sheheen released his plan of action for veterans in South Carolina to address the crisis at the Department of Veterans Affairs at the state level while Washington works out its problems. The plan lays out a course of action to be taken at the state level to get veterans the care and benefits that they need and have earned.

Sen. Sheheen’s plan for veterans includes immediate steps that he will begin work on in the legislature, and actions he would take as Governor of South Carolina.

This week, he will work with veteran and State Rep. James Smith to introduce budget provisos in the House to open DHEC clinics to veterans after-hours and on the weekend, provide no-interest loans to wounded warriors who are delayed their pensions due to DC’s backlog, and make specific requests of state agencies to take action at the state level and do right by South Carolina’s veterans.

View Sen. Sheheen’s plan of action for veterans as well as his other ideas for how to improve leadership and accountability in South Carolina at www.vincentsheheen.com. His book, “The Right Way: Getting the Palmetto State Back on Track” is free and also available online, here.

 

Honest Leadership for South Carolina’s Veterans

 

Our nation’s veterans put their lives on the line to protect and serve our country. The very least that the government should do is provide the care and the service those veterans were promised and have more than earned.

The major problems and delays that have been ongoing with the VA for decades, problems that are now amplified with the increase in veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan, have brought us to a crisis point. The extreme dysfunction in the Department of Veterans Affairs that’s putting veterans at a terrible risk is unacceptable and requires urgent and appropriate action.

Washington has created this crisis, yet the leaders in Washington seem more interested in pointing fingers than taking the urgent action needed to properly address the crisis.  Therefore, South Carolina leaders have no choice but to take immediate and aggressive steps to protect the health and lives of our veterans here in the Palmetto State.

To that end, Senator Vincent Sheheen has proposed an urgent plan of action for South Carolina’s 420,968 veterans, and is working with veteran and State Rep James Smith to get it done.

PROVIDE IN-STATE ALTERANTIVES FOR VETERANS TO ACCESS CARE

There have been six veterans’ deaths at Columbia’s Dorn VA Hospital that may have been caused by on-going delays in appointments.[1]Reports show 10,500 veterans have waited longer than 125 days for an appointment at Dorn.[2] And memos show that the VA knew of the delays here in South Carolina as far back as December 2011.[3] Clearly the problem is systematic, and we must take action to provide veterans with alternate ways to access care at the state level.

Open SC Public Health Facilities to Serve our Veterans

  • Direct all DHEC Public Health Clinics to open after hours during the week and on Saturdays to provide appointments for veterans waiting for care through the VA.
  • Create a Veterans Care Triage System within DHEC, in coordination with Dept. Mental Health, SCHHS and the SC National Guard, to work with VA-qualified veterans in need of healthcare.
  • Expand outreach and resources to SC Department of Mental Health for veterans suffering from PTSD.
  • Appoint a point-person to work with all state agencies, to:

o   Help veterans wade through Federal red-tape and identify possible state solutions or alternatives for care;

o   Hear from veterans being negatively affected by the VA’s national backlog to ensure no more veterans die while on a wait-list;

o   Connect veterans with non-profit and other in-state organizations to ensure they get the medical care they need.

  • Coordinate with rural hospitals, federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) in rural areas and free medical clinics – as well as any other501 c#3 funded by Medicaid – to find alternate ways of providing access to care for veterans

 

Accept Our Federal Tax Dollars to Expand Medicaid for Veterans in SC

  • Expand Medicaid to provide health care to more than 13,000 veterans in the Palmetto State that earn at or below 138% of the poverty level, according to The Pew Institute.[4]
  • Direct the Inspector General to conduct an audit of existing state programs and identify additional Federal or state-based funding sources currently not being used, that could help provide local veterans with access to care.

 

ENSURE DISABLED VETERANS GET THE PENSIONS THEY ARE DUE

There is currently a backlog of more than 340,000 veterans waiting for the VA to process their disability claims, and South Carolina should provide some level of financial security for these wounded warriors.[5]

Provide No-Interest Loans to Bridge the Gap

  • Immediately provide no interest loans, through the S.C. Office of Veterans’ Affairs, for up to 80% of the claim filed, to disabled veterans waiting for their claims to be processed.
  • Allow South Carolina’s veterans to repay those no-interest loans when the Federal government finally approves their claims.
  • If a claim was denied, allow that veteran repay the loan with no penalty, so long as there was no finding of fraud.

Improve Public-Private Partnerships to Assist SC Veterans

  • Increase funding for existing non-profits and faith-based organizations within South Carolina already helping veterans get access to the care they need.

 

 

[1] WIS-TV: Thousands of veterans wait months for appointments at Dorn VA, 5/28/14

[2] Center for Investigative Reporting: Where is the veterans’ backlog the worst?, 8/29/12

[3] WIS-TV: Thousands of veterans wait months for appointments at Dorn VA, 5/28/14

[4] Pew Charitable Trusts State & Consumer Initiatives: A Quarter-Million Vets will miss out on Medicaid Expansion, 5/27/13

[5] VA Press Release: Disability Claims Backlog reduced by 44 Percent Since Peaking One Year Ago, 4/1/14

Interesting choice of an issue for a gubernatorial candidate…

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