From Jan. 1, 2017 to March 31, 2021, the Veterans Heath Administration, under the control of the Department of Veterans Affairs, made more than 425,000 duplicate payments that cost taxpayers more than $307 million, according to a VA Department Inspector General report.
According to the report, the Veterans Health Administration oversees veterans’ healthcare for the VA. When it authorizes community care for a veteran who is eligible for both VHA and Medicare benefits, VHA is responsible for paying for that care even when Medicare also covers the same service, which has lead to the duplicate payments.
Typically, Medicare is the agency that can recover these payments since it’s primarily the VHA’s responsibility to pay for the care.
These duplicate payments added up quickly, and over a span of 4 years, the VA made close to half a million duplicate payments worth more than $307 million in claims for community care.
The Inspector General report notes that the VA did not have a process in place to identify or manage these duplicate payments. It has also never conducted a review to identify past instances of duplicate payments.
These problems could have been avoided if the agency, which receives $52.9 billion in funding, had simply implemented the accounting controls that any private sector business would have in place.
In response, the Inspector General recommended the VA work with Medicare to share data about payments, as well as identify payments that are likely to be duplicated, and clean up administrative processes before care is provided.
Our veterans deserve better than an agency that can’t bother to implement basic accounting controls.
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