Note: On February 28, this release was corrected in the second paragraph to read “medical exam requests” from “benefits claims.” FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Contact: Matt Schuck | (703) 307-1981
Veterans’ Advocacy Group Warns: VA Destruction of Patient Medical Records May Be Illegal
Concerned Veterans for America urges accountability for latest scandal
Arlington, VA – Recent investigative reporting with The Daily Caller and Washington Examiner has exposed further dysfunction and mismanagement at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), detailing the Los Angeles VA hospital’s practice of intentionally destroying veterans’ medical records and medical tests to cancel claims requests—a potentially illegal practice that proves the need for greater accountability at the department, a leading veterans’ advocacy organization said today. On February 24, The Daily Caller reported, based on interviews with a whistleblowing former VA employee, how department officials had destroyed patient medical records in order to reduce the size of the backlog of medical exam requests. But a review of VA guidelines on the management of patient records by Concerned Veterans for America (CVA) reveals that VA employees could find themselves criminally liable for secretly destroying medical records. Specifically, the language under “Retention and disposal” in the VA’s guidance on patient medical records dictates that such records are to be maintained for 75 years, reading as follows: In accordance with the records disposition authority approved by the Archivist of the United States, paper records and information stored on electronic storage media are maintained for 75 years after the last episode of patient care then destroyed/deleted. Darin Selnick, former special assistant to the VA secretary and CVA’s top VA advisor, said that the “rules are set in place to prevent abuse and fraud,” and warned that destroying records could result in penalties for VA employees involved in the destruction. CVA has played an aggressive watchdog role in chronicling the VA’s rampant bureaucratic dysfunction, which has resulted in a massive backlog of veterans’ benefits claims and poor care to VA patients. But the latest revelations detailing the destruction of patient records paints a troubling portrait of just how far the VA bureaucracy will go to salvage its tarnished image. “The collapse of the VA’s service mission over the last several years has been troubling for veterans, their families and for all Americans who care about the men and women who have served our nation in uniform,” said Pete Hegseth, CEO of Concerned Veterans for America. “However, the revelation that VA employees destroyed patient records in an effort to make their numbers look better is deeply alarming, and suggests a failure of professionalism, integrity and ethics. It also raises troubling questions: just how widespread is this practice, and what effect has it had on veterans’ care? They deserve an answer. “Given the Obama administration’s resistance to reforming this broken department, it is imperative that Congress step up to demand accountability—now,” Hegseth concluded. CVA has endorsed the VA Management Accountability Act of 2014, legislation sponsored by Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) to empower the VA secretary to fire senior executive employees who fail to perform. The revelation that VA employees were destroying patient records, Hegseth said, strengthens the case that accountability is long overdue at the nation’s second largest federal department.
For more information, please contact Matt Schuck at 703-307-1981 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Concerned Veterans for America is a non-partisan, non-profit, 501(c)(4) organization that advocates for policies that will preserve the freedom and liberty we and our families so proudly fought and sacrificed to defend.