Federal Audit says VA hospital mishandled mail, identifies delays as the fault of feuding departments
A federal investigation into bundles of mail piled up for months at the Veterans Administration has been announced and the news is not good. The mail pileup was a result of two feuding departments fighting over whose responsibility it was to process and deliver the mail.
As they fought, the mail piled up, and veterans were negatively impacted. The infighting left veterans waiting for treatment, hurt them financially, dissuaded local doctors from treating veterans who had been referred for care, and negatively affected VA finances, the report said.
The federal audit also revealed that VA leaders knew the mail was piling up and had been stacked there for eight months.
The report said that 57% of the mail were medical documents that included payments and veterans’ medical records — that should have been processed in hours or days. Nearly 18,000 unopened parcels were found, along with boxes and envelopes that held over $200,000 in checks, some of which had expired. Also in the pile were nearly 7,300 claims for payment from local healthcare providers and more than 10,000 packets of veterans’ medical records.
The federal investigative report, released Wednesday, says critical mail piled up for as much as 10 months in the basement of the Atlanta Veterans Affairs hospital. VA standards dictate that incoming mail must be opened and processed within four to six hours and that medical records have to be processed and scanned into the system within five business days.
The VA has been criticized for years for delayed and substandard care for the nation’s veterans.