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FILE - In this June 21, 2013, file photo, the seal affixed to the front of the Department of Veterans Affairs building in Washington. The Department of Veterans Affairs is warning of a rapidly growing backlog for veterans who seek to appeal decisions involving disability benefits, saying it will need much more staff even as money remains in question due to a tightening Trump administration budget. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)

Donald Trump's new Office of American Innovation aims to help the VA


Donald Trump's new Office of American Innovation aims to help the VA

WATCH | The new White House Office of American Innovation could boost the beleaguered Department of Veterans Affairs.

The Department of Veterans Affairs seems to always be in the news, and for all the wrong reasons: long lines, red tape and poor service. Now President Trump wants to fix the bureaucracy at the VA and other government agencies with the new White House Office of American Innovation.

In his new role as its leader, Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner will tap private-sector experts to help the VA. But are private-sector solutions what the agency needs?

The Veteran's Administration is a disaster, the V.A., it's a disaster.
President Donald Trump

One idea to improve the VA is the implementation of a public-private medical care option. This would allow veterans to visit private-sector doctors, which could mean shorter wait times for the 9 million veterans that use VA medical services. But some veterans groups tout the benefits being treated by VA doctors.

“We hear from our veterans, and they say 'No, no, no -- I like going to VA," VFW National Veterans Service Director Ryan Gallucci told Circa. "VA knows what I’m up against.”

Instead, groups like the VFW want to tap into the private sector's expertise.

“What we are hoping to see is leveraging some innovation, some innovative ideas that come from the private-sector health care industry," Gallucci said.

Another VA problem Kushner must tackle is overpayments, which stem largely from the agency's antiquated system for processing claims.

According to the inspector general, in 2015 alone the VA overpaid incarcerated vets more than $24 million in compensation benefits -- money they’re still trying to recoup. And during the 2013-14 academic year, schools approved for the GI Bill received $247.6 million more than they should have.

So, how can they fix this problem?

"There may be so much that we may be able to automate, and we don’t even know what’s out there yet," Gallucci said. "It may be a terrific value add if private industry comes to the table and offers up some resources."

The VFW wants to make sure the VA stays around to serve veterans, and they're optimistic that the White House Office of Innovation can help. "We believe is a good opportunity to leverage ideas that they may not have leveraged in the past," Gallucci said. 

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