Outrage: VA IG says more than 300,000 veterans died waiting for care

A report by the Veterans Administration inspector general shows that an examination of 800,000 records stalled in the system for managing health care enrollment, more than 300,000 veterans waiting for approval died.

In June, the IG reported that even after getting approved, wait times to see a doctor were still close to a year. 


In a response to the House Committee on Veterans Affairs' request to investigate a whistleblower's allegations of mismanagement at the VA's Health Eligibility Center, the inspector general also found VA staffers incorrectly marked unprocessed applications and may have deleted 10,000 or more records in the last five years.

In one case, a veteran who applied for VA care in 1998 was placed in "pending" status for 14 years. Another veteran who passed away in 1988 was found to have an unprocessed record lingering in 2014, the investigation found.

For more than a year, CNN investigated and reported on veterans' deaths and delays at VA facilities across the country, including detailed investigations in November 2013 and January 2014 examining deaths at two VA facilities in South Carolina and Georgia.

The report released Wednesday reveals a web of complications with the VA's management of health care enrollment data, including a lack of procedures to oversee records, software glitches within the records system and inconsistency in identifying veterans who have died.

The inspector general found the VA's office responsible for enrollment "has not effectively managed its business processes to ensure the consistent creation and maintenance of essential data."

Additionally, the investigation states the Veterans Health Administration "has not adequately established procedures to identify individuals who have died, including those with pending health care enrollment records."

The report adds that an internal VA investigation in 2010 found staffers had hidden veterans' applications in their desks so they could process them at a later time, but human resources later recommended the staffers responsible not be disciplined.

Scott Davis, a program specialist at the VA Health Eligibility Center, said thousands more veterans who have returned from combat in Iraq and Afghanistan have not received care because of being erroneously placed in the enrollment system's backlog.

This is a disgrace that should cause some heads to roll from top to bottom. But it probably won't. The VA announced in February that 900 employees had been dismissed as a result of the wait time scandal. In truth, according to Military Times, only 8 employees connected to the scandal lost their jobs.

Nothing the agency says about anything should be taken at face value. And President Obama is doing his part to decieve the American people. In June, he said that wait times for appointments had been reduced to "a few days" - a statement that elicited outrage from veterans whose wait times had actually increased since the scandal broke.
From top to bottom, the VA is rancid with incompetence. Only a thorough overhaul will begin to address the problems of management and change the lack of accountability that is ingrained in the VA's culture.