The Veterans Affairs department has had its share of controversies – now it seems another one is surfacing.
A recent internal VA Dept. report states that about one-third of the veterans waiting to receive medical care from the agency have already died, according to The Hill.
A review of veteran death records reportedly found that, as of several months ago, nearly 850,000 veterans were awaiting healthcare and of those vets, almost 240,000 were already deceased.
Copies of the report have been sent to Congress and to the White House. The leak will no doubt get strong reaction from lawmakers on Capitol Hill, who are still angry over last year’s VA scandal. That controversy over patient wait times, forced VA Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign.
The latest news comes as the VA’s No. 2 warns Congress that it needs to fill a $3 billion shortfall or risk shutting down VA hospitals later this summer.
“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.
A VA spokeswoman told the 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. “More than 80 percent of veterans who come to the department “have either Medicare, Medicaid, Tricare or some other private insurance,” she said.
But a program specialist at the VA’s Health Eligibility Center 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.