VA agrees to pay Madisonville WWII veteran’s medical bills

Investigations

MADISONVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – There’s good news for a World War II disabled veteran who had a mountain of bills he thought the Veterans Administration covered. The VA contacted the 94-year-old to tell him his care will be paid.

David Olmstead is pleased. He said a big load has been lifted from his shoulders.

Children of the Great Depression era learned early to pay their bills with cash as their parents had to do in the 1930s. Lingering debt was a dangerous enemy. When Olmstead started receiving medical bills in February, he became alarmed and tried to resolve the issue through phone calls with the VA. When that failed, he called WATE 6 On Your Side and we contacted the VA.

Previous story: Madisonville disabled WWII veteran on the hook for medical bills

Olmstead is grateful that the Veterans Administration is finally paying his medical providers after months of frustration.  Since February, he’s accumulated more than half a dozen bills totaling more than $15,000 from individual doctors, hospital charges and ambulance services following several trips to two different emergency rooms last year.

“Every week I get a bill. So I mail it back to them, tell them to bill the VA,” he said.

In late March, Olmstead, a 100 percent disabled veteran, said he thought the VA would pay for an ambulance trip and care at Blount Memorial Hospital last summer and would pay for another emergency trip and subsequent care at the hospital in Sweetwater last December. 

He was told he “didn’t have pre-approval” and that he should have contacted the VA within hours after being admitted. Olmstead said he was disoriented and sedated at the time. He’s insured through the Veteran’s Choice Program.

Olmstead said he started calling the VA to track the status of the claims back in February. The calls would last four or five hours, but Olmstead says he got no results.

In early April, we contacted the VA and forwarded Olmstead’s invoices, explaining he needed assistance. Then in mid-April, Olmstead received notice from a debt collector for a doctor bill filed more than half a year ago. 

Just recently Olmstead received two letters, one from his Congressman Chuck Fleischmann that he’s made an inquiry to the VA.

The second letter was from the Veterans Administration at Mountain Home in Johnson City. The bills he has been getting from various medical providers are either being processed or will be submitted for payment soon.

“I’m very thankful. It’s amazing,” he said. “I paid my debt dearly, yes. Seeing seven men die who shouldn’t have died, too. Unbelievable.”

In World War II, Olmstead served aboard the USS Biloxi, a light-cruiser that saw three years of active duty in the Pacific. He was injured during one of the battles. His struggle with the VA is now over.

When WATE first contacted the VA, representatives turned the information over to the VA’s Office of Community Care, The OCC then went to work reviewing the claims. Olmstead says he was eventually called by the VA assuring him the process to make payments is being worked out in his favor.

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