SINGLE POINT OF CONTACT FOR THE VETERAN
I am sure the Veterans want to work with the Government on putting forth positive changes to the New Veterans Charter. Changes to the old Charter were done for reasons of changing circumstance. I would like to put forth some suggested changes that would help the Veterans but still keep the central theme of the New Charter intact. These proposals are;
1. Assume that the Veteran is telling the truth when they file their initial claim with VAC. In other words, make a point in time (that is the date of filing the claim), a neutral date. This would freeze time as far as both the Government is concerned and the Veteran. There would be no added advantage for either side. Once all the proof is in and all appeals have been exhausted, then a final decision would be made. This could still be referred to as the "Decision Date" but, would not be the "Effective Date", as it pertains to monetary issues. As it has been shown, since installing this New Veterans Charter, that it does take in some cases an excessive amount of time. This is somewhat a manpower issue and bureaucratic item but, neither side would be penalized for the time it takes to get the decision right. Getting it right, is all the Veterans are asking for.
2. Treat the Veteran as a whole person. Because they may be injured in one way physically, that problem could cause other consequential conditions. If the Veteran believes that this is the case, they can take positive steps to prevent further injury thus, pro-actively, keep costs down for all.
3. In the case of medication and their side effects, these are all well documented. If confirmed by a physician, these side effects are and should always be, classified as consequential to the initial claim.
4. The process itself is extremely difficult to manage and navigate for Veterans. With the multitude of different departments, the flow of information can easily be slowed. Upon making an initial claim, the Veteran should be given a "Case Manager" who's sole responsibility is, to work with the different departments within VAC and be able to contact the other units directly for answers. The Veteran may not even know what department or form they need or where to address it to, when trying to work with the system. The 1-866-522-2122 line is, most of the time, less than helpful. It is not that they are not trying to help the Veteran but, confusion, frustration and comprehension of the system and how it works, is so complicated, no wonder the Veterans get frustrated. The way it is now, every day that goes by is another day away from the "Decision Date".
SO TO RE-CAP: Make the claim filing date, the effective date for compensation purposes. The "Decision Date" will remain as is except, it will have no bearing on compensation.
The Military and RCMP are used to a, "Chain of Command." They understand that and can comprehend it's value. For VAC, create a," Case Manager" position, that has direct access to all departments so that VAC people can talk to VAC people to solve issues using common sense. As we were told while serving, the book is only a guide and is no substitute for common sense. By having this one "Case Manager", able to talk to all departments, the member would have a single point of contact just like they were used to while serving. The "Case Manager" could get the proper forms together and be able to quickly forward them to the correct person. This would greatly reduce the need for the 1-866 number and have only VAC departmental personnel talking to VAC personnel. Veterans would be taken out of the loop, so to speak.
For Privacy Issues, the Veteran would have to sign a blanket authorization for all departments to be able to respond to the "Case Manager" and between themselves, to solve problems on behalf of the Veteran.
Reference Blue Cross Coverage. Since most medical and physical issues a Veteran may have, need to be arranged for that particular Veteran. No one Veteran has exactly the same needs as another. Physicians and medical Specialists, should have the freedom to try whatever is at hand to treat the Veteran the best and most expedient way possible. The rules on Formulary and other medical aids, would not apply until the Veteran, as a whole person, is taken care of. In the interim, the "Case Manager" could work with these medical professionals, in an attempt to indicate possible ways to save. Once fully stabilized and after the "Decision Date" is in effect, attempts at cost savings over the long term could be looked at.
Now that all the Veterans immediate health concerns have been dealt with, both financially and medically, the Veteran would then be handed off to a "File Manager" who just takes care of occasional changes in circumstance.
The Veterans would understand a system to help them that mirrors the system they are used to. A Single Point of Contact. The VAC workers could now work amongst themselves, to solve problems for the Veteran without the Veteran having to be in anyway involved. The Case Manager would be the one and only contact for the Veteran. In an emergency, the 1-866 number would still be available or a regional office approach could be taken, should anything of an urgent nature come up.
A WORKABLE PLAN - SINGLE POINT OF CONTACT (OPI - for those RCMP or Military types)