Last week, Reps. Kurt Schrader, Earl Blumenauer, Suzanne Bonamici, Peter DeFazio, and Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden sent a letter to VA Secretary Shulkin in response to recent news reports about a Salem veteran, Aaron Olivas, who was removed from the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers by the VA Portland Health Care System (PCAFC). The letter raises concerns about the rate at which veterans are being removed from the program and lays out a list of questions for the VA.
“The [Oregonian] story raises serious concerns with the management of the program at the local level,” the Members wrote. “Specifically, the article claims that the VA Portland Health Care System has been removing service connected veterans from PCAFC at a rate of 50%, a rate significantly higher than the national rate of 16%. The story also highlights that veterans being removed from the program are not given a medical explanation nor are they given an opportunity to have their case reviewed by an independent third party. The ‘appeals’ process seems to be done by the very system making the initial determination, and it is reported that not a single appealed case in the Portland VA HCS has been reversed.”
The Members continued on saying that “until the VA can assure us that veterans from the Portland VA Health Care System’s PCAFC are being treated fairly and not held to a different standard than veterans in other states, we are asking that you immediately stop removals in Portland’s jurisdiction.”
A copy of the letter, including the list of questions about the PCAFC, can be found here.