A National Guard veteran John Irish claims that the Department of Veteran Affairs had, at one point, refused to pay for the removal of stitches; after he had injured his thumb with a power tool. He stated that he was nearly forced to operate on himself after the VA declined to pay his bills.
John Irish mentioned that he had cut his thumb on a table saw. “I looked down and there was a piece of my finger missing.”
The injured veteran said that he didn’t want to blame the hospital for following the set procedures and denying him service. However, he did indeed hold the VA responsible, claiming that it has a rather broken system.
After he received the initial care for the accident, Irish claimed that he encountered the problem on his return to Lahey Medical Center in Burlington, for an appointment to have the stitches removed.
“They handed me a slip of paper saying, ‘We are going to have to have you sign this, because the VA says they’re not going to pay the bill,’ ” he recalled.
Irish receives medical assistance through the Veterans Choice Program, which allows veterans to access private care when a VA facility is too far away or has a long wait time, in order to get an appointment. Irish said that he has faced incidents like this in the past as well.
He stressed that it is “totally disgusting” that veterans are forced to “threaten, beg, or borrow to get medical treatment.”
“Realistically, we get the worst medical treatment in the world,” Irish said.
“I thought it was about time the VA of New England got exposed for what it’s doing on this Choice program,” he told a local news outlet.
The Lahey Medical Center’s records indicate that the hospital had received a phone call from Manchester VA Medical Center. It was during this call that Irish’s sutures procedure was discussed and an appointment was step-up.
However, a VA spokesperson argued: “A review of our records show there was no prior contact or authorization regarding Mr. Irish.” She said that “no care or payment had been denied.”
Denying all of Irish’s claims, the Lahey Medical Center stated, “Lahey Health is committed to providing high quality health care to all of our patients, including veterans,” the hospital said in a statement. “We recognize that navigating federal health care programs can be complicated. Any veteran having difficulty accessing care from a Lahey Health physician should contact us directly.”