Nearly 900,000 military veterans have officially pending applications for health care from the Department of Veterans Affairs, the department’s inspector general said Wednesday, but “serious” problems with enrollment data make it impossible to determine how many veterans were actively seeking VA health care.
About one-third of the 867,000 veterans with pending applications are likely deceased, the report says, adding that “data limitations” prevent investigators from determining how many now-deceased veterans applied for health care benefits or when. The applications go back nearly two decades, and officials said some applicants may have died years ago.
More than half the applications listed as pending as of last year do not have application dates, and investigators “could not reliably determine how many records were associated with actual applications for enrollment” in VA health care, the report said.
The report also says VA workers incorrectly marked thousands of unprocessed health-care applications as completed and may have deleted 10,000 or more electronic “transactions” over the past five years.
Linda Halliday, the VA’s acting inspector general, said the agency’s Health Eligibility Center “has not effectively managed its business processes to ensure the consistent creation and maintenance of essential data” and recommended a multi-year plan to improve accuracy and usefulness of agency records.
Halliday’s report came in response to a whistleblower who said more than 200,000 veterans with pending applications for VA health care were likely deceased.