“VA problems extend beyond delayed care, Colorado vets say.”
Reporter David Olinger at the Denver Post nails it: the tragic healthcare scandal at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), where Veterans died waiting for medical appointments, is inextricably intertwined with agency’s inability to process disability benefit claims in a timely and accurate manner.
The damage inflicted by VA on Veterans is significant. Every year, the agency’s widely publicized delays and denials are severely harming hundreds of thousands Veterans seeking assistance from the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), the VA agency providing healthcare, and the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA), the VA agency responsible for processing disability benefit claims.
Olinger Interviews Moore
In a story published Sunday, June 8, Olinger interviews Bergmann & Moore partner Joe Moore and reveals how Veterans in Colorado face unconscionable and outrageous delays and denials when seeking VHA health care and VBA disability benefits.
“The unreported scandal at the VA … is a [disability claim] appeals system that leaves thousands of Veterans dying before they ever get approval to wait for medical care at a hospital.”
In December 2012, Reporter Aaron Glantz at the Center for Investigative Reporting broke the original story about Veterans dying while waiting for VBA claim decisions. What needs additional news coverage is how VBA’s claim appeal crisis continues deteriorating: As of June 9, 2014, VA reported an all-time record high 276,445 disability benefit claim appeals pending, usually for four to five years. That’s unacceptable.
VHA and VBA
When combined, the chronic VBA and VHA delays cause enormous frustration for Veterans and their families who go without urgently needed medical treatment and without disability benefits to pay their rent and feed their families.
Many of our Veterans lack free VHA medical care for their conditions while their VBA claim appeal is pending. That’s because VHA’s healthcare eligibility rules are complicated: most Veterans must have an approved (“granted” or “service-connected”) disability claim from the VBA before receiving free VHA medical care.
VHA’s web site makes it clear: “The number of Veterans who can be enrolled in the [VHA] health care program is determined by the amount of money Congress gives VA each year. Since funds are limited, VA set up Priority Groups to make sure that certain groups of Veterans are able to be enrolled before others.”
Whistleblower Code Word: “Tender Vittles”
VA’s most recently publicized woes began several months ago when an unprecedented number of brave whistleblowers who shared key VA documents with CNN’s clandestine investigation. In one example more apt for a spy novel, a VA employee insisted on using the code phrase “Tender Vittles” before handing CNN information about VA’s secret waiting lists for medical care.
In addition to CNN’s exemplary news coverage, plus several contentious Congressional hearings, Bergmann & Moore’s blog consistently provides regular updates about VA. In dozens of media interviews in the past few years, partners Glenn Bergmann and Joe Moore have thoroughly and accurately described VBA’s challenges and offered practical solutions so Veterans receive prompt and accurate disability benefits.
Sunday’s Denver Post article follows fresh on the heels of reports by USA Today, the Austin American-Statesman, CNN, and Army Timesquoting Bergmann & Moore and confirming that VA’s serious delays and denials for both medical treatment and disability claims have been the tragic norm at VHA and VBA for many years.
Managed by former VA attorneys, Bergmann & Moore is a national law firm that has helped thousands of Veterans and families obtain the VA disability benefits they earned. Call us if you are unemployed due to your military service or have lost a loved one due to a service-related disease or injury.