Report: VA Left Veterans Paperwork Unprocessed in Boxes, Filing Cabinets
We previously reported that the US Court of Veterans Appeals ruled that the VA must pay for veterans’ ER visits to non-VA facilities. The extent of the veterans paperwork problem was revealed when the IG visited several VA offices – and found appeals for payment in boxes, file cabinets, and cubicles and mailrooms…totally unprocessed. Was it just because they “weren’t ready for modernization?”
Veterans paperwork – out of sight, out of mind?
Abbie Bennett at ConnectingVets reported,
The IG audit detailed in the report took place ahead of the Appeals Modernization Act, which took effect in February. The audit showed VHA was not fully prepared for that modernization, including developing and implementing all the required procedures for the required new appeals process and did not have the staff to process the appeals.
It was not until months later, in April, that the audit team revealed even more issues — appeals were mailed to offices that did not have staff assigned to process them, and staff had not added them to the system.
The staff did not even use a standard system to record, track and monitor appeals until July 2018. It had no way of tracking its own workload, the report said.
“This meant that (the payment and operations management staff) could not reliably determine how many claim decisions veterans and providers appealed or how many appeals its staff completed,” the report said.
In site visits to offices where the appeals were sent and should have been processed, the audit team counted appeals and conducted 70 staff and leadership interviews.
In Fiscal Year 2018, auditors found that the offices processed about 8 million non-VA emergency care claims and denied more than 900,000 of them or about 11 percent.
As of February, the offices said they had 13,935 appeals, and the audit team found that more than 12,000 of those were pending an average of nearly two years. Those claims ranged from $10 to more than $100,000, the report said.
Let’s talk about the VA bureaucracy: for years we’ve talk about about the problems at the VA. They’ve changed secretaries numerous times, fired employees continually, and then the cycle repeats itself over and over again. Their medical records are atrocious – the forms in this article were left in boxes, and file cabinets, placed out of sight, out of mind. They’ve upgraded computer systems often, and with each “upgrade” comes more problems. Some VA facilities have done great things for some veterans. Others have routinely made egregious mistakes.
We can blame incompetence in people for the veterans paperwork debacle, which in reality is only part of the issue. America created a giant-sized monster. And the more we add to that monster, the worse the problems may become. It’s like Democrats throwing money at the homeless problem, and the problem only gets worse. Is there another way?