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Report: VA failed to properly screen up to 1,600 doctors and nurses

GAO finds that some community health care providers treating vets had revoked or suspended medical licenses.

WASHINGTON — The Department of Veterans Affairs needs to do a much better job screening private community medical care providers who treat vets, according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

The GAO, in a report published this week, found the VA needs to strengthen its ability to identify unqualified and incompetent doctors and nurses.

The GAO said the VA may have mistakenly allowed 1,600 potentially ineligible providers to treat vets, including some with revoked or suspended medical licenses.

"We found that basically, VA was cutting corners in the vetting of providers," said Seto Bagdoyan, director for audit services in the department's Forensic Audits & Investigative Service mission team.

He continued: "Having ineligible providers poses a risk to veterans' health. The bottom line here is VA should take the issue of provider eligibility seriously and act decisively."

The GAO published ten recommendations for improvement, including that the VA enhance existing controls, consistently implement controls as described in standard operating procedures, and assess the fraud risk of invalid provider address data. 

And, the VA agreed with all ten recommendations.