Sunday, May 22, 2016

Veterans' Agent Orange lawsuits refused — but their war continues

A contractor agency hired by the U.S. government to review thousands of veterans' refund claims for exposure to Agent Orange recently refused them. Whistleblower attorneys decided to appeal the denial, claiming that they defrauded the federal government.
During the Vietnam War, U.S. military sprayed an herbicide called "Agent Orange" in the Vietnamese and Korean jungles to remove the dense vegetation where enemy soldiers lay in ambush. The tactical weed killer contained the controversial glyphosate, as well as dangerous levels of toxic dioxins, which are classified as human carcinogens by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) determined that soldiers who were exposed to this chemical substance during the war could be eligible for compensation for any disability or disease linked to exposure. Recently, the U.S. government hired a contractor agency called QTC Medical Services to review all the cases, leading to numerous denials. One of their former claims and file analysts, Dr. David Vatan, explained that reviewers were put under enormous pressure to review more than 160,000 applications in a very short time span. Vatan told that many of them weren't properly trained for this job and after he complained about the lack of quality control he was threatened with disciplinary actions. Despite the fact that QTC was paid $350 to review each file more than two inches thick, analysts had less than two minutes to read each one of them. This is not the first time that the VA is under the eye of the storm, however. Dozens of cases of VA malpractice get filed every day, and many senior executives have been fired for incompetence or malfeasance in recent times. To avoid further scandals and lawsuits by whistleblowers attorneys, last week the U.S. Senate promised a massive veterans reform package that should "change the agency to a more veteran-friendly culture."
QTC Medical Services was founded by former VA Secretary Anthony Principi.

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