Investigation, reassignment for VA managers linked to Atlanta enrollment office

Four VA managers linked to the veterans national health care enrollment office in Atlanta have been moved from their positions pending the outcome of an internal investigation.

VA on Tuesday did not disclose the nature of the inquiry. The move is another sign of deep dysfunction at the Atlanta-based Health Eligibility Center (HEC) that oversees the health care enrollment system for millions of veterans across the country.

One of the managers, Matt Eitutis, oversaw the recent effort to fix a pending backlog of hundreds of thousands of veterans health care applications. But that plan was marred by mismanagement and allegations that leaders acted in their own interest at the expense of veterans.

As acting director of Veterans Health Administration members services division, Eitutis also oversaw an effort to combat the epidemic of veteran suicide with the opening of a new suicide prevention hotline call center in Atlanta last October. He did not immediately respond to an email Tuesday seeking comment.

The VA's health enrollment system was the subject of a recent inspector general's report that found the system in disarray and lacking oversight.

Eitutis's former executive assistant Ryan Heiman, who was involved in the plan to clear the backlogged applications, has been moved to a position as health systems specialist.

The two other managers moved from their permanent positions were Shane Kolbaba, the chief financial officer for the Veterans Health Administration member services division, and Angel Lawrence, the director of the HEC.

Lawrence made news earlier this month in an AJC story about a VA employee who exchanged unprofessional and racially offensive instant messages with her.

She had been reassigned from her position, but did not reveal her new position.

VA spokesman Curt Cashour in an email Tuesday said she is not in the Office of Mental Health Operations.

Cashour said "pending the results of an internal investigation" the four "have been detailed out of their permanent positions and are now serving" in non-HEC roles.

About the Author

Brad Schrade
Brad Schrade
Brad Schrade is a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter on the AJC’s investigative team.