WASHINGTON – Leadership from both the U.S. Senate and U.S. House Committees on Veterans’ Affairs are calling on the secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to extend VA healthcare enrollment opportunities after a coding error reportedly resulted in the incorrect closure of up to 440,000 applications.
U.S. Senators Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and Jon Tester, D-Mont., chairman and ranking member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, joined with U.S. Representatives Phil Roe, R-Tenn., and Tim Walz, D-Minn., chairman and ranking member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, to express their concern that the VA has not taken enough steps to prevent this potential coding error from causing delays in VA health benefits.
“Given the enormity of the impact on veterans, we urge you to take additional steps to further ensure veterans receive every opportunity to complete their applications and that those applications are not improperly closed due to VA error,” the members wrote to VA Secretary David Shulkin. “To that end, we recommend that the VA send an additional letter to those veterans who were potentially impacted by the coding error, clarifying what additional information is needed. Given the widespread reporting of this matter, we believe that a clarifying letter will provide veterans with some peace of mind on what is actually still needed to complete their enrollment.”
The error may have occurred when the VA requested more information from veterans to complete their pending applications. The VA allegedly switched two codes requesting different information.
The Senate and House committee leaders are asking the secretary to send another corrected letter to veterans who have incomplete enrollment applications and not to close any health care applications from these affected veterans for a year after this action is taken, so that veterans have had the opportunity to provide the correct information.
The members’ letter to Shulkin can be found online here.
The Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs is chaired by U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., in the 115th Congress.
Isakson is a veteran himself – having served in the Georgia Air National Guard from 1966-1972 – and has been a member of the Senate VA Committee since he joined the Senate in 2005. Isakson’s home state of Georgia is home to more than a dozen military installations representing each branch of the military as well as more than 750,000 veterans.