Report: One-third of vets on pending medical care list already dead

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An internal Veterans Affairs Department report states that about one-third of the veterans waiting to receive medical care from the agency have already died.

A review of veteran death records provided to the Huffington Post found that, as of April, 847,822 veterans were awaiting healthcare and that of those, 238,647 were already deceased.

{mosads}The report was handed over by Scott Davis, a program specialist at the VA’s Health Eligibility Center in Atlanta

He also sent copies to the House and Senate VA panels and to the White House.

A VA spokeswoman told Huffington Post that the department can’t subtract dead applicants from the list and that some may never have completed an application but remain on the back log.

Spokeswoman Walinda West also said that more than 80 percent veterans who come to the department “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.”

Davis dismissed that argument.

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

The leak is sure to provoke a strong reaction among Capitol Hill lawmakers still fuming over last year’s scandal over patient wait times.

A series of internal and third-party investigations found the VA medical network was rife with falsified data that may have contributed to patient deaths.

The controversy roiled the Obama administration for months and forced VA Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign.

The news comes the same day that VA’s No. 2 warned Congress that it needs to fill a $3 billion shortfall or risk shutting down VA hospitals in August.

“It is essential that Congress pass legislation to provide the requested budget flexibility by the end of July 2015,” Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson wrote in a letter to lawmakers.

“This is necessary to replenish critical operations funding that VA had to reallocate from other medical services programs to sustain Care in the Community, after those funds were depleted … if these program funds are not restored, VA will face shutting down hospital operations during August 2015,” he said.

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