COBB COUNTY, Ga. — A Cobb County Vietnam veteran says it took six months for him to get an appointment at the Atlanta VA Medical Center for vision problems.
By the time he finally did get in to see a doctor, he was legally blind.
Dewey Kinsey’s past year battling with Atlanta Veterans Affairs is a story he felt he had to share to help other veterans. And it is not just the eye problems.
He was also stuck with a medical bill of more than $60,000 for heart treatment that he says VA should have paid for.
“Somebody needs to see this and go in there and do something and fix it because they are not going to fix it from within. It’s been going on for years out there,” Kinsey told Channel 2 Investigative Reporter Justin Gray.
The 74-year-old says when his vision first started getting bad, he started calling, emailing and even visiting VA to try to get an eye doctor appointment. It was more than six months before he got an appointment.
“First, I couldn’t read, then the TV was blurry, then I could see the TV, then I it got so I couldn’t even drive.
“They told me that I was legally blind, and they scheduled an appointment two weeks later for cataract surgery,” Kinsey said.
At the same time, he was battling VA over tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills from heart surgery.
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Kinsey had a heart attack while at a VA clinic for treatment.
He was rushed by ambulance first to the Atlanta VA Medical Center Emergency Room, then to neighboring Emory Hospital for treatment and surgery.
Emory sent him the bill after VA refused to pay.
VA denied coverage because it claimed Kinsey did not get a proper referral for treatment at Emory.
“I tried to call them and tell them, and they wouldn’t listen to me, wouldn’t talk to me. Would just say we aren’t paying it,” he said.
After months disputing the charges, Kinsey was finally able to get Atlanta VA to cover the medical costs.
Cataract surgery was also able to restore his vision.
We reached out to the Atlanta VA Medical Center. Spokesperson Greg Kendall told Channel 2 in a statement:
“The Atlanta VA Health Care System takes very seriously our mission to provide top quality care to our Veterans in a safe and secure environment. We are currently investigating all the circumstances involving this Veteran. Upon completion of this investigation, the Atlanta VAHCS will take the appropriate actions.”
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