Charges Brought In Connection with VA Wait List Scandal

The first criminal charges have been brought in connection with the VA waitlist scandal that broke in 2014. Interestingly, the federal criminal indictment arose from conduct at the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center in Augusta, Georgia, and not the Phoenix VA Medical Center that was the initial focus of the controversy. Federal prosecutors announced that Cathedral Henderson, 50, an employee in charge of revenue and billing and chief of “purchase care” at the Augusta VAMC, is the subject of this indictment. Fifty charges of making false statements related to health care matters were brought against Mr. Henderson. The indictment alleges that in February 2014, he ordered staff members to close out 2,700 unresolved requests for outside appointments, including two patients’ requests for imaging, one patient’s request for an ultrasound, one patient’s request for a neurology consultation, one patient’s request for surgery, and forty-five patients’ requests for mammograms. According to the indictment, Mr. Henderson ordered staff to close out these requests by indicating that they were completed or refused by patients. These patients were, in fact, still waiting for care. Mr. Henderson faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine should he be found guilty on these charges. On Friday, July 17, 2015, Mr. Henderson plead not guilty in United States District Court. He was placed on paid administrative leave from the VA that same day. In statements to the press, Mr. Henderson’s attorney urged the public to withhold judgment with regard to his client, stating that Mr. Henderson was just following the directive of his supervisors. It is unclear whether additional criminal charges may arise from the VA waitlist scandal. The United States Attorney’s Office in Phoenix, Arizona refused to comment on whether or not there were federal indictments pending there. A spokesperson for the VA maintains that the indictment is exclusive, so far, to Augusta. Although it is unknown what the outcome of the charges against Mr. Henderson will be, it is good to see federal prosecutors attempt to hold VA officials accountable for actions which clearly are not in the best interests of VA patients. For further information: http://www.latimes.com/nation/nationnow/la-na-nn-va-waiting-lists-indictment-20150720-story.html http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/federal-eye/wp/2015/07/20/va-manager-indicted-on-50-counts-of-falsifying-records-of-veterans-waiting-for-medical-care/

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