- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Nearly one-third of veterans waiting to receive health care through the Department of Veterans Affairs are already dead, according to an internal VA document provided to The Huffington Post.

The April 2015 report, provided by Scott Davis, a program specialist at the VA’s Health Eligibility Center in Atlanta, showed that more than 238,000 of the 847,000 veterans in the pending backlog have already died, meaning they died after they applied for, but never received, health care, The Post reported.

VA spokeswoman Walinda West said the agency has no way of taking dead applicants off the list. Since the VA’s electronic health record system has been in place since 1985, some of the data may be decades old and some of those people may have used other insurance, she told The Post.

Ms. West said that about 81 percent of veterans who come to the VA “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.”

Mr. Davis called the VA’s explanation “immaterial and a farce.”

“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 told The Post. “VA is making it cumbersome, and then saying, ‘See? They didn’t want it anyway.’”

Mr. Davis sent copies of the report — conducted by staffers in the VA Health Eligibility Center and the VA Office of Analytics — to the House and Senate VA panels and to the White House, The Post reported.

Eric Hannel, the staff director of the House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, said his team is looking into the findings.

“We take it seriously,” Mr. Hannel told the paper.

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