The Inspector General (IG) of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has issued a new report, and its findings are nothing short of shocking. In this latest report, the IG says that over 300,000 military vets have likely died as they waited for various types of health care which never came. It goes on to say that there is probably twice that number who are still waiting for care.
According to the IG report, “serious” issues exist with the government’s enrollment data which makes it nearly impossible to know how many vets are currently seeking VA care. The data systems that are being used also makes it impossible for inspectors to learn exactly how many vets were waiting for care but died prior to receiving that care.
This new finding supports the sad news that came out last year that vets were dying while waiting for VA health care. The main cause for the lack of care was (and still is) being blamed on applications being stalled within the enrollment system. The IG reports that some veteran applications have been stalled in the system for up to 20 years.
Also, much of the data that the system does have on file is in error. For instance, over 50% of the applications that are currently “pending” do not contain application dates, thus hindering the IG’s ability to get current, reliable information. In addition, the IG reports that as many as 10,000 electronic files may have been deleted over the last 5 years. Also, thousands of applications that were marked as “completed” were, in fact, marked as such in error (the applications were not fully processed).
The acting IG for the VA, Linda Halliday, put the blame squarely on the VA’s Health Eligibility Center when she said of the agency that it “has not effectively managed its business processes to ensure the consistent creation and maintenance of essential data.” She went on to recommended a multi-year plan that would focus on improving accuracy of agency records.
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