INHUMANE: 307,000 Died Waiting for VA Decision; Nearly Half Million Still Wait

Thousands might never get a call -- ever -- even if they live for the next 100 years

A new report shows hundreds of thousands of veterans waiting for their application for care to be accepted died before their paperwork was approved:

The VA’s inspector general found that out of about 800,000 records stalled in the agency’s system for managing health care enrollment, there were more than 307,000 records that belonged to veterans who had died months or years in the past.

VA Hosp
Understand, this wasn’t veterans waiting on a waiting list for care. These were veterans waiting to get on a waiting list for care. And some of their applications were found stuffed in desks, essentially discarded.

The report was commissioned by the House Committee on Veterans Affairs after a whistleblower said 200,000 vets with applications pending were dead. CNN reports the inspector general found showed negligence and misconduct in the VA.

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.

The veteran who applied in 1998 is still waiting.

And, if you think that’s bad:

The report said 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.

How many of those applications were for veterans who were already dead? How many of the names on those forms were for men and women who volunteered for service, stood in the breech when called upon, for their country, only to have some government bureaucrat shove their request for medical treatment in a desk drawer because they’re too busy to do their job?

And human resources doesn’t think the person who is so unbelievably disrespectful, callous and heartless needs disciplined.

Meanwhile, if we subtract the 307,000 who are dead, there are still over 600,000 veterans still waiting. Around 10,000 of them might not get a call if they live for the next 100 years:

More than half the applications listed as pending as of last year do not have application dates, and investigators “could not reliably determine how many records were associated with actual applications for enrollment” in VA health care, the report said.

The report also says VA workers incorrectly marked thousands of unprocessed health-care applications as completed and may have deleted 10,000 or more electronic “transactions” over the past five years.

And let’s not forget the recent discovery at a Los Angeles VA office. A surprise inspection found the staff shredding mail “related to veterans’ disability compensation claims.”

The VA said in a statement, “Our mission is to provide timely access to earned health care and benefits for millions of veterans. That is a responsibility that we do not take lightly.”

Save it. Remember, when applications were found hidden away, human resources recommended people not be disciplined.

Also, this isn’t a surprise to the folks running the department. The whistleblower, a program specialist at the VA Health Eligibility Center named Sean Davis said he alerted members of Congress as well as the White House and senior officials at the VA.

He was ignored, so clearly the agency takes that responsibility lightly.

This isn’t an abberation in the system. Waiting for treatment is common occurrence when dealing with government run health care.

Britain’s National Health Service hospitals have a goal of starting treatment for 90 percent of their patients within 18 weeks.

18 WEEKS! And they still can’t meet that goal:

In February, nearly 40,000 admitted patients did not start consultant-led treatment within 18 weeks of referral, and more than 13,000 waited more than 26 weeks.

In Canada, where Donald Trump says single payer works, it’s as bad or worse:

The latest data for waiting lists indicates that in 2014, Canadians could expect to wait 18.2 weeks for treatment after seeing a general practitioner, which is 96 per cent longer than they had to wait in 1993. Such wait times are three weeks longer than what physicians consider clinically reasonable.

In a comparative sense, Canada’s wait lists are among the worst in developed countries. According to the Commonwealth Fund, Canada ranked dead-last on most measures of timeliness of care (behind 10 other countries, including the U.S.). Only 41 percent of Canadians were able to get an appointment the same day (or next) when sick compared to 76 per cent in Germany. Further, 29 per cent of Canadians waited two months or more for a specialist appointment while only three percent reported such waits in Switzerland and the Netherlands.

Aside from getting an organ, there are no waiting lists in America, except at the VA, where salaried bureaucrats don’t see veterans. They see paperwork, and if they don’t want to do it, it disappears into a drawer until the patient dies.

VA waiting list

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Photo Credit: Willie Stark/flikr

 

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1 comment

  1. ThomasW Reply

    Long waits don’t seem to bother policy makers. Jonathan Gruber of Obamacare fame said “of course you’ll need to wait 4 weeks to see your primary care physician” (or something very close, I may remember the exact time wrong). It’s in one of the three videos which were in the news last year (I forget which). Since Prof Gruber is in Massachusetts this statement isn’t surprising. Massachusetts already has relatively long wait times (average 63 days for family practice for those on Medicaid according to the report at http://www.merritthawkins.com/pdf/mha2009waittimesurvey.pdf).

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