Six months have elapsed since national veterans’ advocate Christopher Neiweem incurred a medical bill after he was locked out of a 24/7 Department of Veterans Affairs emergency room. Despite VA Secretary Robert McDonald’s office pressuring the medical center to pay the bill, it still hasn’t complied and instead told a congressional committee the bill was resolved when it in fact was not.
Neiweem was forced to visit Cook County Hospital in late January after he was locked out of Chicago’s 24/7 Jesse Brown VA emergency room. He was subsequently saddled with a large bill, which the VA promised it would pay immediately.
As of July, Neiweem has been on the phone with the VA dozens of times and dealt with more than 35 emails just to get the VA to fulfill its promise of covering a simple private medical bill incurred as a result of the department’s own incompetence.
The bill is still unpaid and the issue still unresolved, despite assurances from top officials at the Jesse Brown VA, which continues a trend of broken promises over the past several months.
Neiweem recently spoke with the Cook County Bureau of Health Services, and the staff reminded him Thursday he has a balance due of $1,578, even though several weeks prior, Jesse Brown VA staff had apparently contacted that hospital to tell staff there the bill was authorized and payment was on the way within four weeks.
Jesse Brown staff also reportedly told Cook County the bill was resolved and so contacting the vet to demand payment wasn’t necessary.
However, when Neiweem spoke with Cook County staff, they told him they had no record on his account of any contact from Jesse Brown regarding the bill. No record, no notes and no annotations of any kind.
Based on sources from a congressional committee and from within the VA, a Jesse Brown VA employee told a congressional oversight delegation that authorization had “gone through” and the issue was already resolved.
That update to Congress appears to have been false.
“I am beyond exhausted with this matter,” Neiweem said.
“What’s more frustrating than the non-VA care bill languishing for months is the constant fight to hold VA leaders accountable,” Neiweem told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Our veterans deserve accurate and timely updates.”
Several months ago, VA Secretary McDonald’s office got involved and tried to pressure the Jesse Brown VA to finally fix the issue. And despite direct guidance from the highest levels in the agency, the Jesse Brown still hasn’t followed through on paying the bill.
The Jesse Brown VA declined to respond to a request for comment from The Daily Caller News Foundation, citing privacy laws.
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