VA enrollment system has backlog of close to 900,000 healthcare applications

Although the Veterans Health Administration has a backlog of nearly 867,000 healthcare applications in pending status, 35 percent of the backlog contains applications for deceased veterans, according to a new report from the VHA's Office of Inspector General.

The report, which evaluated allegations of mismanagement at the VA's Health Eligibility Center Enrollment System (ES) in the wake of a nationwide scandal last year that revealed a cover-up over delays of care, noted that data limitations prevented the OIG from being able to reliably determine how many records were associated with applications for enrollment. 

However, Deputy Inspector General Linda A. Halliday wrote that more than 307,000 of the pending records were for veterans who were likely deceased. And most of the backlog contains old, inactive or misclassfied records. The report found that in many cases employees incorrectly marked unprocessed applications as completed and possibly deleted 10,000 or more transactions over the past five years.

She said the VHA's Chief Business Office, which oversees the enrollment system, hasn't effectively managed its business processes to maintain essential data. Because of the old data, the OIG said the VA needs a multi-year project management plan to address the accuracy of the pending records and improve the usefulness of the data. 

The OIG findings come on the heels of a recent Government Accountability Office report that indicated medical errors are up at VA facilities, but the department is spending less time investigating what caused those errors.

To learn more:
- read the OIG report (.pdf)