Federal prosecutors have announced their first indictment in a nationwide waiting list scandal at medical centers that cater to US army veterans.
50 charges of VA malpractice have been brought against the manager of a VA medical center in Georgia, Cathedral Henderson, when he forced staff members to close out 2,700 unresolved appointment requests by falsely stating that the requests were either completed or refused by patients.
After a whistleblower at a medical center in Arizona revealed that administrators were fraudulently removing patients from a waiting list in April 2014, numerous facilities across the country were revealed to have similar illegal practices that denied treatment to many veterans who needed it, enough so that the chief of the VA resigned a month later. According the whistleblower, scheduling clerks were urged by administrators to cook the books, and hide long delays for patients by zeroing out wait times.
Henderson was in charge of managing outside appointments for Veterans when the VA did not have the ability to provide the care needed, as well as revenue and billing. He had been working at the VA for 20 years, holding a number of financial, IT, clinical, and administrative positions, as well as serving as a mentor to junior staff.
After coming under pressure from the undersecretary at the VA to close unresolved requests for consultations, he then falsified documents, incorrectly claiming that they had been resolved. If convicted, he could serve a maximum five year prison sentence, with a $20,000 fine. Since the indictment, the VA has fired almost 2,000 employees, and subjected nearly 200 more to disciplinary action. Ninety nine VA facilities have come under audit so far, with half reaching completion, resulting in disciplinary action at 5 facilities, and further investigation at 16.
At least 18 veterans have reportedly died due to being denied the medical treatment they needed at the Phoenix facility. “In far too many instances we have let our veterans down,” the acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Sloan Gibson stated in response to the scandal. “They have had to wait too long for the care they deserve, and in too many instances we have behaved in ways that are not consistent with our values.”
If you or a loved one have suffered due to long wait times at a VA medical center, you could be the victim of a massive VA fraud scheme, and deserve compensation right away. Contact us today online at hmlm.com or call (949) 640-8222 for a complimentary case evaluation.