An error in the Department of Veterans Affairs computer system is responsible for over 35,000 combat veterans being placed in limbo on a health care enrollment list.
The VA system requires veterans to complete a questionnaire detailing household income in order to be considered for healthcare enrollment. But that policy is not supposed to apply to combat veterans, who instead should be receiving five years of free care. Still, the system doesn’t appear advanced enough to differentiate between combat and non-combat veterans, meaning that 35,093 veterans are pending enrollment for care when they shouldn’t even be on the wait list.
Nearly half of combat vets on the list have languished for more than five years under the pending category, and after the five year period is up, they lose free access, Huffington Post reports. Most of the combat veterans have served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
VA officials have been aware of the problem since April. Employers are calling the 35,000 veterans to let them know of their pending status and asking these vets to fill out another form, which they already filled out in their original application.
Whistleblower Scott Davis, who leaked the documents, said that the VA should find all the social security numbers of the forgotten veterans and declare them as enrolled in the system. Walinda West, a spokeswoman for the VA, told Huffington Post that VA Secretary Robert McDonald does not have the authority to make that call.
“We are taking steps to contact and/or enroll these applicants as quickly as possible to ensure all appropriate action is taken and resolved to the satisfaction of those Veterans for whom we are honored to serve,” West said. “We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience that this issue may have caused our Veterans. We are working to get this right.”
In June, Davis leaked a document showing that a third of the 847,822 veterans on the enrollment waitlist had died while waiting for care. (RELATED: Almost A Third Of Veterans On The 847,000-Long Waitlist Have Died Without VA Care)
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