According to a document leaked to the Huffington Post, over 200,000 veterans waiting for healthcare have already died:
Leaked Document: Nearly One-Third Of 847,000 Veterans In Backlog For VA Health Care Already Died
WASHINGTON — More than 238,000 of the 847,000 veterans in the pending backlog for health care through the Department of Veterans Affairs have already died, according to an internal VA document provided to The Huffington Post.
Scott Davis, a program specialist at the VA’s Health Eligibility Center in Atlanta and a past whistleblower on the VA’s failings, provided HuffPost with an April 2015 report titled “Analysis of Death Services,” which reviews the accuracy of the VA’s veteran death records. The report was conducted by staffers in the VA Health Eligibility Center and the VA Office of Analytics.
Flip to page 13 and you’ll see some stark numbers. As of April, there were 847,822 veterans listed as pending for enrollment in VA health care. Of those, 238,657 are now deceased, meaning they died after they applied for, but never got, health care.
You can read the entire document here, but as the Huffington Post mentioned, be sure to see page 13. (A screen cap of that page is featured at the top of this post.)
According to a related report from the Washington Free Beacon, officials at the VA are already spinning the news:
VA spokeswoman Walinda West played down the number, insisting that some of those listed as having “pending” status may well have not completed their applications for healthcare coverage and that the data could be decades old.
West explained that approximately 81 percent of veterans who visit the VA “have either Medicare, Medicaid, Tricare or some other private insurance … [and] consequently, some in pending status may have decided to use other options instead of completing their eligibility application.”
All of this comes on the heels of a report from the Associated Press which suggests that the VA may begin closing hospitals to deal with a budget gap:
The Department of Veterans Affairs may have to shut down some hospitals next month if Congress does not address a $2.5 billion shortfall for the current budget year, VA officials warned Monday.
The VA told Congress that it needs to cover shortfalls caused by an increased demand by veterans for health care, including costly treatments for hepatitis C. The agency also is considering furloughs, hiring freezes and other steps to close a funding gap for the budget year that ends Sept. 30.
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