Despite the scandal that occurred last year, when 40 veterans died waiting for care in a Phoenix Veterans Health Administration office, almost 900,000 American vets still await treatment.
Nearly one million military veterans have pending applications for healthcare with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, according to a recent report from the department’s inspector general. In short, the problems that continue to plague the VA are proving both intrinsic and intractable, and they’re preventing vets from getting the medical care they’re entitled to.
Vets Waiting Years for Healthcare
The inspector general’s report revealed that more than 307,000 records belonged to veterans who had died months or years in the past while still awaiting care. One veteran had been awaiting a determination on his application for 14 years, while another application still in the system in 2014 belonged to a veteran who passed away in 1988.
Many of the applications did not have dates attached, making it impossible for investigators to “reliably determine how many records were associated with actual applications for enrollment” in the VA’s healthcare program. Thousands of unprocessed applications were marked as completed and more than 10,000 applications had been deleted in the previous five years.
U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson and U.S. Representative Jeff Miller, respectively chairmen of the Senate and House Committees on Veterans’ Affairs, said in a joint statement that the VA’s problems were “deep-seated and systematic.”
They added: “From delays in care and scandal cover-ups, to rampant unaccountability and a lack of leadership, the VA is an organization challenged at every level.”
In April of last year, the scandal broke. CNN reported that at least 40 U.S. veterans died while waiting for appointments at the VA’s Phoenix offices. Many were affected by a scheme designed to disguise the long waiting periods that thousands of sick veterans were forced to endure.
A retired, top VA doctor and several other high-level sources told CNN that the hospital had put in place two waiting lists, an “official” list and a “secret” one. The system attempted to fool VA leadership into thinking the hospital was providing care to veterans within the required time frame. But in reality, the vets were only moved onto the official list if they received care within the mandated 14-to-30-day waiting period prior to their appointment.
VA spokeswoman Walinda West has explained that the department is attempting to remedy the problem by contacting veterans via mail, according to News Max, a clear sign that its administrative issues continue to linger. As of June 30, the VA had received 36,749 responses and enrolled 34,517 veterans, but while the department struggles to sift through the chaos, many veterans may rightly prefer to seek alternative sources of healthcare. SingleCare offers a simple and affordable option for accessing important services, even for those without insurance.
SingleCare empowers its members to only pay for services they actually use, and to select from a wide range of affordable options within their expansive network of providers. Pre-negotiated, discounted rates put quality healthcare within reach for everyone who signs up for SingleCare, including our nation’s veterans.
(Main image credit: JeffOnWire/flickr)