Report: 1/3 of vets waiting for treatment at VA facilities die before being seen

The internal investigation by the Veterans Administration reveals that one third of veterans seeking health care from the VA die before being seen.

The Hill:

A review of veteran death records provided to the Huffington Post found that, as of April, 847,822 veterans were awaiting healthcare and that of those, 238,647 were already deceased.

The report was handed over by Scott Davis, a program specialist at the VA's Health Eligibility Center in Atlanta

He also sent copies to the House and Senate VA panels and to the White House.

A VA spokeswoman told Huffington Post that the department can’t subtract dead applicants from the list and that some may never have completed an application but remain on the back log.

Spokeswoman Walinda West also said that more than 80 percent veterans who come to the department "have either Medicare, Medicaid, Tricare or some other private insurance.”

“Consequently, some in pending status may have decided to use other options instead of completing their eligibility application."

Davis dismissed that argument.

"VA wants you to believe, by virtue of people being able to get health care elsewhere, it's not a big deal. But VA is turning away tens of thousands of veterans eligible for health care," he said. "VA is making it cumbersome, and then saying, 'See? They didn't want it anyway.'"

The leak is sure to provoke a strong reaction among Capitol Hill lawmakers still fuming over last year’s scandal over patient wait times.

A series of internal and third-party investigations found the VA medical network was rife with falsified data that may have contributed to patient deaths.

The controversy roiled the Obama administration for months and forced VA Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign.

The news comes the same day that VA’s No. 2 warned Congress that it needs to fill a $3 billion shortfall or risk shutting down VA hospitals in August.

“It is essential that Congress pass legislation to provide the requested budget flexibility by the end of July 2015,” Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson wrote in a letter to lawmakers.

Outrageous.  Indefensible.  And the VA's "explanation" of why the number of dead vets waiting for treatment is so high is a bunch of baloney. 

It's true that the number of patients being seen by the VA has spiked in the aftermath of the drawdown from two wars.  But why is this a surprise?  The incompetent management of this agency from the secretary on down is due to a culture of tolerance for failure.  Few managers were fired in the aftermath of the original VA scandal last year, and you have to expect that there will be little fallout from these revelations as well.

That budget shortfall is another indication of failure of VA management.  Congress will probably appropriate the money, although you would hope that they take a good, hard, long look at what upper management's spending priorities have been.  It probably isn't very pretty.

The internal investigation by the Veterans Administration reveals that one third of veterans seeking health care from the VA die before being seen.

The Hill:

A review of veteran death records provided to the Huffington Post found that, as of April, 847,822 veterans were awaiting healthcare and that of those, 238,647 were already deceased.

The report was handed over by Scott Davis, a program specialist at the VA's Health Eligibility Center in Atlanta

He also sent copies to the House and Senate VA panels and to the White House.

A VA spokeswoman told Huffington Post that the department can’t subtract dead applicants from the list and that some may never have completed an application but remain on the back log.

Spokeswoman Walinda West also said that more than 80 percent veterans who come to the department "have either Medicare, Medicaid, Tricare or some other private insurance.”

“Consequently, some in pending status may have decided to use other options instead of completing their eligibility application."

Davis dismissed that argument.

"VA wants you to believe, by virtue of people being able to get health care elsewhere, it's not a big deal. But VA is turning away tens of thousands of veterans eligible for health care," he said. "VA is making it cumbersome, and then saying, 'See? They didn't want it anyway.'"

The leak is sure to provoke a strong reaction among Capitol Hill lawmakers still fuming over last year’s scandal over patient wait times.

A series of internal and third-party investigations found the VA medical network was rife with falsified data that may have contributed to patient deaths.

The controversy roiled the Obama administration for months and forced VA Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign.

The news comes the same day that VA’s No. 2 warned Congress that it needs to fill a $3 billion shortfall or risk shutting down VA hospitals in August.

“It is essential that Congress pass legislation to provide the requested budget flexibility by the end of July 2015,” Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson wrote in a letter to lawmakers.

Outrageous.  Indefensible.  And the VA's "explanation" of why the number of dead vets waiting for treatment is so high is a bunch of baloney. 

It's true that the number of patients being seen by the VA has spiked in the aftermath of the drawdown from two wars.  But why is this a surprise?  The incompetent management of this agency from the secretary on down is due to a culture of tolerance for failure.  Few managers were fired in the aftermath of the original VA scandal last year, and you have to expect that there will be little fallout from these revelations as well.

That budget shortfall is another indication of failure of VA management.  Congress will probably appropriate the money, although you would hope that they take a good, hard, long look at what upper management's spending priorities have been.  It probably isn't very pretty.