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Is Ebenefits The Next "healthcare.gov" Scandal?


Snake Eyes

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Hi folks... I'm not well connected, so maybe someone with more experience and an inside track to the VA's public affairs angle could give some balance to my rant below. Sometimes not having all the facts can cloud one's understanding :-)

If you've been using eBenefits regularly the past few years, you know what an important tool it can be for veterans to file claims, follow their progress and access key resources. Unfortunately, we all know it has not been very reliable over the past several months.

I personally love the new features and re-design, but I'd gladly welcome the return of the old site IF they could make it reliable. EBENEFITS IS DOWN AGAIN! The problems that have plagued it over the past few weeks have been a real bear... and to their credit, they've tried to keep parts of the site up and running while they do their behind the scenes work. That's what the orange "Under Construction" banner has been about.

The question is: Are we dealing with yet another VA scandal? Has someone way out of their depth been contracted to do the work on the site and now it's just falling apart? I've given an overview of my own experience to the "tip line" at FoxNews.com (foxnewstips@foxnews.com) and some other places.

If you've had similar problems -- and feel they're enough of a concern, please let some news outlets know (I know the FoxNews one, like most national news outlets will keep their sources confidential).

All I could find by way of who is behind the re-design (and possibly some of the problems) is a CV posted on the Web by a person or company claiming to be instrumental in the site since 2011 and most recently involved in the portal re-design.

http://contentinsomnia.net/experience/#comment-9is the link to "Eddie's" resume.

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I'm not sure if it is related or not, but myhealthevet is also down although they have it updated, on their log-in screen, that they are down for scheduled maintenance until 2AM.

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Here is the deal:

The VA is used by politicians to "show favor" to people who have helped them win elections.

This means cushy contracts and great paying jobs for very little work. Further this means, to taxpayers and

Veterans that money that should be going to Veterans is squandered on wasteful spending, and lucrative contracts.

Ebenefits is a great example, along with healtchare dot gov. Healthcare dot gov cost something like 200 million for a site that barely works and does not work well. It should be 10 million, but 190 million is going into peoples pockets that help the president get elected.

Same thing for ebenefits. Its a high priced, low quality product, designed to overpay well connected contractors at Veterans expense.

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  • HadIt.com Elder

The VA is a scandal! Fee base is a scandal and so is that new program for vets who live more than 40 miles from a VA hospital or clinic.

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Re: MyHealthEvet.... I have no problem with planned and announced outages -- even as frequently as MyHealthEvet seems to go down. It's the obviously out of control nature of outages and service limitation on both sites.

It ticks me off that the media make a big deal out of healthcare.gov only because of the ACA's association with the president. The VA has been inefficient and scandal plagued for as long as there has been a VA (regardless of politics). Denying vets access to their information conduit and their ability to track and file claims is nothing like putting them on endless stealth waiting lists waiting for them to die. But scandal is scandal :-)

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  • HadIt.com Elder

The VA is a system designed to fail! Planned failure is cheaper than granting benefits and services. We get old and die and the VA lives on doing their dirty work as sanctioned by both parties in congress and the Prez whoever that is at the present. The benefits system fails as does the medical system and the G.I. Bill does not pay enough to support a rabbit.

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I've been fortunate in the benefits system (denied... denied within year of evidence submission period and then approved). I always expect the worst and have done the math on the likely worst case scenario (not including being reduced for everything ;-) ).

But I DO think something like ebenefits or healthcare.gov is probably designed to fail or at least need long term maintenance and improvement. In fairness to the VA this go around, they got their server back online and they are claiming the current outage is planned for "upgrades". I'm thinking an "upgrade" is a VA euphemism for "make it work temporarily".

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Just checked again... eBenefits is partially up -- claim status/filing still gets "Internal Server Error" but benefits letters is now working. I downloaded my AB8 before the next crash :-)

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One thing to realize is that the VA has multiple contractors handling VA systems. Here are some examples...VBMS which took paper folders and was implemented into this electronic system. I work for the VA and I can tell you for a fact that VBMS is not user friendly and is a joke. EVERYDAY and I mean EVERYDAY I along with my Va Coworkers experience lag time, freezing screens, error messages, documents that the veteran says he or she say turned in not showing up in the system. I have complained to VBMS help desk numerous times and they say refresh or clear cache and the same thing happens. I am tired of this because I am hurting veterans due to this system. I could serve more veterans if it was faster and less errors. Also QTC is a contract run system. This is where veterans go for C&P exams based on their zip code. They take their time getting results uploaded to VBMS in order to move claims to rating department. So when you guys are wondering why it is taking so long keep these problems in mind. You just don't know the half of what we go through with these outdated under developed programs they hand to us........

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Hey, Mont36... Thanks for chiming in. Tou may have noticed over the years with the exception of some people who see a conspiracy behind dvery tree, we hold you guys in high regard.

You're saddled with a flawed system, and lowest bidder projects like eBennies are a reflection on the political vlass and appointed leadership, not the rank and file in my opinion.

I think it IS a scandal when good programs "turn brown" because some politician and somr appointee are working in their own interest.

As I said earlier, eBennies is wsy better than before. But the past few months lead me to think it's a lipstick and pig problem for the forseeable future.

Thanks again for all you and your colleagues put up with to help us out. Don't give up on trying to improve things from within. :-)

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