By Brandon Gray
Updated: Mar 09, 2016
The VA inspector general in September found extensive problems with the VA's health applications, including evidence that employees lost 10,000 applications and that more than 245,000 veterans on the pending list actually were deceased.(MILITARY TIMES) - The Veterans Affairs Department has figured out how to fix a backlog of health care applications that dates back at least four years: Enforce a law requiring veterans to furnish the necessary paperwork, or the applications will be closed.
In a press release issued on Monday, VA officials said the department will “extend the healthcare enrollment application for one year” to 545,000 veterans who have applied for VA health care to allow time for VA to contact them and for the veterans to furnish the required information.
By law, VA must notify applicants with incomplete applications, and if the veteran receives the notice but does not provide the information, the department closes the request.
In the past, the VA's Health Eligibility Center has not tracked the status or timing of applications, resulting in an applications backlog that includes the applications of 545,000 living veterans and 245,000 deceased veterans.
“What happened is there had been a lot of deferred maintenance on this system ... and the HEC did not have the proper leadership making sure these records were being actively case-managed," said VA acting director for member services Matthew Eitutis.
According to VA, officials will reach out by mail and phone to all veterans on the pending list, as it has for 30,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who were mistakenly on that list.
These veterans automatically are entitled to health care for five years following their transition to the civilian community, but in many cases, the VA's software system mistakenly labeled their applications as needing signatures or income information.
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