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We’ve been following the VA waitlist/rationed health care scandal since it provides such a clear window into the priorities of so many the federal government’s bureaucrats, who we’ve argued chronically put their own interests above those they are intended to serve.
But the scale of those mispriorities is only just now becoming known. That is perhaps nowhere more clear than in the Congressional testimony prepared by a VA whistleblower from Atlanta, Scott Davis, who has put a number to how many applications for VA health care access that have been stalled for no good reason for years at the department’s national Health Eligibility Center in DeKalb County, Georgia. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports:
Whistleblower Scott Davis will tell the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs that as many as 40,000 unprocessed health applications were discovered by HEC last year, primarily from veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. His testimony is part of a Congressional hearing focused on VA whistleblower complaints and retaliation they’ve faced within the agency.
The HEC oversees enrollment and eligibility for veterans seeking to enter the VA health system nationwide. Last month, Davis told investigators with the VA inspector general’s office about mismanagement within the agency. Investigators are looking into allegations that more than 10,000 health applications from veterans may have been improperly purged from the HEC data system.
The AJC reported Davis’ story in an exclusive June 29. Just days after the article, he was contacted by the committee about testifying at tonight’s hearing. Other VA whistleblowers in the HEC office and in the Atlanta area have also contacted Davis since the AJC’s article ran.
Davis said one of those tipsters alerted him to the 40,000 unprocessed applications discovered in January 2013. He said the center is supposed to process applications within five days after they are received, but some of the 40,000 had been sitting for three years.
In the AJC’s original report, Davis previously described the VA’s priorities for processing these incoming applications to receive access to the VA’s health care services:
“We don’t discuss veterans,” Davis told the newspaper. “We do not work for veterans. That is something that I learned after working there. Our customer is the VA central office, the White House and the Congress. The veterans are not our priority. So whatever the initiatives are or the big ticket items that is what we focus on.”
As for what the VA’s bureaucrats at its Health Eligibility Center were doing instead of processing applications from veterans seeking medical care, Davis opened a window into the directions the Center received from the VA’s higher-ups in Washington D.C. in an interview with Fox News’ Neil Cavuto. TruthRevolt provides a partial transcript:
For example, I shared with your producer that we actually put incoming applications aside so we could focus on the ACA related applications that came in over last summer. That’s wrong. We should treat each veteran equally and focus on applications, as they come in, not because of special campaigns coming out of D.C.
“ACA related applications” refers to applications for individuals enrolling in the state or federal-government run “marketplaces” for health insurance established under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), which is popularly known as “ObamaCare”.
With such a large backlog of applications from veterans with recent service in Iraq or Afghanistan seeking medical care, there was no legitimate reason for diverting the staff of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Health Eligibility Center away from processing those applications in favor of processing the applications of civilians buying health insurance through the Healthcare.gov “marketplace” or any of the state government-run exchanges.
We should also note that this alleged diversion of resources is something that could only have been ordered by individuals at the highest levels of the Obama administration – it’s not something that the VA’s bureaucrats would just go out and do on their own. As such, the unlawful misprioritization and waitlisting of 40,000 veterans’ applications for access to the VA’s health care services for over three years certainly didn’t happen by accident.
Something like that takes planning and coordination. A lot of it. And most importantly, the specific direction by individuals in authority to do it.
Office of the Inspector General, Social Security Administration