Would this be different if it was happening to illegal immigrants?
WASHINGTON — It’s been seven months since top officials at the Department of Veterans Affairs learned that tens of thousands of combat vets were being denied VA health care enrollment because of a computer system error. Not much has changed.
The Huffington Post first reported in August that more than 35,000 combat vets were missing out on health care because their applications had been mistakenly flagged as pending, simply because they didn’t complete a so-called means test, which assesses their household income. Many vets have to submit a means test to enroll in VA health care, but not combat vets, who are automatically eligible for free insurance for five years after they’re discharged.
The problem is that the VA computer system isn’t set up to exempt combat vets from the means test requirement. So when a combat vet applies for VA care, unless he or she voluntarily fills out a means test, the application may end up in a backlog. Combat vets lose their eligibility for free health care after five years, so the longer the delay, the more it eats into their free coverage.
VA management says they first learned about the computer glitch in April. But there are signs that some at the agency were aware of it as far back as 2012. In a “report of accomplishments” from the VA’s Chief Business Office sent out in the third quarter of that year, officials boasted of enrolling 10,163 combat vets who had been mistakenly listed as pending (see page 6).
Read more: Huffington Post