The Department of Veterans Affairs drew fire in 2014 for manipulating appointment waitlists while veterans died without care, but despite hopes that the agency would clean up its act, it hasn’t fared any better in 2015. In fact, increased scrutiny has resulted in more light shed on incredibly serious problems plaguing the department.
From patients dying while they wait to gross over-medication, here are the top five worst VA scandals of 2015.
- A year after the waitlist scandal, the number of veterans waiting for care is up by 50 percent
The waitlist manipulation scandal brought the VA into the public spotlight in 2014, and numerous waitlist scandals since continue to keep the VA under intense scrutiny. In June, The New York Times discovered that at the same time the department was posting a shortfall of $2.7 billion, wait times for appointments had increased by an unbelievable 50 percent, compared to wait times during the peak of the scandal in 2014. The VA failed to anticipate additional demand from veterans for services.
- Almost a third of veterans waiting for care have died without appointments
A leaked internal document from the VA reported in July showed that almost a third of all veterans on the waitlist for care had died while waiting for an appointment. The exact total of veterans on the list was 847,822. VA database procedures are poor enough that the disaster is not actually as bad as it first appears. In fact, the VA has no method of removing the deceased from the database, meaning that deaths accumulate year over year. The list has existed in one form or another since 1985, but according to whistleblower Scott Davis, a program specialist at the VA Health Eligibility Center in Atlanta, the list only dates back to 1998.