Many Veterans Dying Before Care
HandelontheLaw.com Staff Writer
The lack of care for American military veterans is shocking. According to a Veteran’s Administration (VA) report called “Analysis of Death Services,” nearly 1/3 of veterans whose applications for VA healthcare are still “pending” died without receiving services.
Scott Davis, who works in the VA’s Eligibility Center in Atlanta, Georgia, stated that as of April 2015, 847,822 veterans had pending applications for enrollment in VA healthcare and 238,657 of those same applicants are dead. In other words, it took so long for their acceptance into the VA’s healthcare program that more than 238,000 of the applicants died between application and acceptance.
A VA spokesperson stated that the backlog is a reflection of the VA’s electronic medical records system, dating back to 1985, the possibly incomplete applications of some veterans and some veterans’ use of other health benefits, such as Medicare, Medicaid or private insurance.
Davis states the VA’s defensive statements are nonsense. First, an incomplete application would not be listed in the system as “pending.” Secondly, the electronic medical records system does not include applications. Third, the VA did not start requiring formal applications until 1998, which is exactly when the backlog started. Fourth, using private options as an excuse for not providing care is a “farce.” According to Davis, “VA is turning away tens of thousands of veterans eligible for health care. VA is making it cumbersome, and then saying, 'See? They didn't want it anyway.’”
Davis sent copies of the “Analysis of Death Services” report to the veterans’ affairs committees in the House and Senate, as well as the White House, hoping the report will prompt appropriate action to eliminate the application backlog.
Finally, Davis believes the VA should be forced to allow veterans to upload their DD-214 forms when applying for healthcare. The DD-214 is a lifetime form showing the individual’s military record. If the form could be used to show eligibility for healthcare services and if the VA allocated staff to review every pending application, the backlog would be cleared.
By Kathy Catanzarite
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