Friday, July 16, 2010

New AO Presumptions On Hold

Last October, the VA announced 3 new AO presumptions - ischemic heart disease, Parkinson's disease and B-Cell Leukemia. Sen. James Webb, D-Va., says he will use a Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing — rescheduled now for Sept. 23 — to have Secretary Shinseki explain his decision to compensate Vietnam veterans, and many surviving spouses, for three more ailments including heart disease.

VA projects that the decision will cost $13.4 billion in 2010 alone, as it will qualify a few hundred thousand more veterans for service-connected disability compensation.

Those veterans, it now appears, will have to wait at least a few more months before claims can be paid. And there is at least some doubt now they will be paid. That will depend on whether Webb and enough of his colleagues are dissatisfied with the science behind Shinseki’s decision. Webb has said that presumptions have expanded to include "common disease of aging." This action has frozen the interim regulation on these 3 new AO presumptions that were published in March 2010. A final rule is needed and that now can’t happen until the fall at the earliest.

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