Leaked Memo Damages VA’s Reputation for Health Care

A leaked Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) internal department memo outlines how the VA delays and even denies medical care to sick veterans and then covers its tracks with fraudulent paperwork. The VA Inspector General, among others, have made this charge against the VA since the first soldiers began their return from Operation Enduring Freedom.

The memo was written by William Schoenhard, the Deputy Undersecretary for Health Operations and Management. Schoenhard learned of these unacceptable practices and dubbed them “gaming strategies.” Essentially the VA is giving patients less access to medical treatment in order to better their scores on various evaluative measures.

The memo identified 24 actions the VA was using but cautions there are most likely more. Schoenhard refers to the VA using the fine-print to cancel patients’ appointments as sinister. This happens when a patient arrives on time for his appointment and is told his appointment was canceled. The patient is referred to the fine print on the bottom of his form stating patients not arriving 10-15 minutes early risk cancellation.

VA employees also “game the system” by entering patients’ return visit dates months past the doctor specified date. Another “game” is marking patients’ initial treatment requests on paper as opposed to the computer system. Employees then call the patients months or a year later making that date their first request date. Federal law requires the VA see the patients within 30 days. Along the same lines, multiple patients are booked at the same time slot. Either the patients wait for hours or leave without service.

There is no doubt the VA is overwhelmed by the amount of veterans needing help. These practices, however, are despicable.

If you are a disabled veteran who has been denied disability compensation or have not yet applied for benefits from the VA, contact Veterans Help Group. You may be entitled to certain programs and benefits so contact our veterans disability rights firm today.