As bad as the last several months have been, I hate adding more bad news; but the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) – Office of Inspector General (VA-OIG) keeps reporting, and I keep summating. Due to the absolute overabundance of incredible bureaucratic insanity, today’s article format will necessarily shift to report more and comment less. Don’t worry, I will still comment on the more egregious examples, for some of these VA-OIG reports are scarier than Joe Biden dressed as a mall Santa at a Fourth of July celebration feeling up little children!
- 2020 Pre-award reviews of contracts totaled $81 million; guess what:
- 24 of the 31 contracts awarded contained conflicts of interest.
- 25 of the 31 contracts had problems with overcharges for hourly rates of services rendered.
- 6 of the 31 price gouged Medicare.
- 25 of the 31 contracts, if they had adequately followed the contract process, would have saved taxpayers $16 Million. – Would it shock anyone to hear this is just the “tip of the VA-OIG” report iceberg?
- Financial Efficiency Review of the Southeast Louisiana VAHCS in New Orleans; guess what:
- The VAHCS in New Orleans scored 75% out of 90%. The VA does not try to get a 100% because they regularly fail financial audits as a fact.
- Actual costs are difficult to relate in dollars and cents because the leaders intentionally hid costs from the VA-OIG, then blamed the new medical center director.
- Avoidance costs, Purchase card abuse, prime vendor program abuse, and more were employed to avoid proper fiscal practices.
- Audit, FAILED! No accountability, no person held responsible, and the taxpayer is left holding the bill!
- Followup to VAHCS Ozarks Pathology Failures From Dr. Levy Scandal; guess what:
- Levy Scandal for those who do not remember. – Intentional misdiagnosing, VA coverup, refusal to discuss with patients affected. The report is ghastly!
- 5% of the patients have now been contacted, and the VA-OIG considers this a “success.” I sure hope you are not part of the 24.5% patient population.
- Here’s the rub in the 76.5% notification, “an absence of a clearly defined process for clinical providers to alert the Clinical Review Team if later changes in a patient’s health required reconsideration of institutional disclosure.” Does the VA-OIG still want to cheer about that notification rate?
- Less than 5% of the severely sick patients have been notified of the scandal and the problems created by Dr. Levy. Is this how the VA admits culpability, waiting for the patient to pass?
- Now, here’s the real kick to the balls; “The VA-OIG determined facility processes related to disclosure of the pathology errors and amending patients electronic health records generally met Veterans Health Administration policy requirements, but opportunities for improvement existed.” – Are you KIDDING ME?
- Speaking of fiscal inefficiency and audit failures. The VA continues to overspend and under-deliver on prosthetic devices, especially for shoe inserts.
- In the fiscal year 2019, such items—artificial limbs, shoes, shoe inserts, and compression garments—accounted for about $318.8 million, or about 9 percent of prosthetic spending.
- Oversight of prosthetic spending was ineffective, resulting in medical facilities sometimes reimbursing vendors at unreasonable rates.
- Medical facilities spent about $10 million more than reasonable rates in the six months from October 2019 through March 2020.
- Rates and data in databases remain unreliable, no oversight, and those in charge of oversight are missing in action. Yet, the VA continues to spend pell-mell. Does this sound like fiscal responsibility to you?
- VA-OIG double-speak lives, and is blatantly observable in the following report, the “Contracting Officer Warranting Program.”
- For those unfamiliar, a simple explanation: “A warrant gives federal contracting officers the authority to obligate taxpayer dollars. VA’s contracting officers help serve our nation’s veterans by procuring the goods and services required for their care and support.”
- Never forget – There have been long-standing concerns (Never Resolved) with VA’s contracting officer warrant program. Since 2015, the VA Office of Inspector General (VA-OIG) has issued multiple reports [describing how] warranted contracting officers exceeded their authority and made decisions that put veterans and VA facilities, resources, and information systems at risk.
- Never forget – The VA-OIG has documented multiple times, and the VA has never resolved, that the VA’s acquisition management has been included on the Government Accountability Office’s (GAO’s) high-risk list for fiscal impropriety and poor contractual adherence.
- The VA-OIG found that while VA’s contracting officer warrant program complied with Federal Acquisition Regulation requirements, opportunities exist to strengthen the program and that the VA lacked assurance that all contracting officer warrants were justified and necessary. – Essentially, this is bureaucrat double-speak for, continue to lie, cheat, steal. We like our job and want to continue, and since Congress doesn’t care, neither do we!
- The VHA continues to suffer from employee shortages. I have written about this shortage until I am blue in the face and my fingers ache. I am fed up telling the VHA how to fix this problem. If they want answers, call me!
- Nurse Bethann Kierczak of Southgate, Michigan, was charged with theft of government property and theft or embezzlement related to a healthcare benefit program. She allegedly stole authentic COVID-19 vaccination record cards from a VA hospital—along with vaccine lot numbers necessary to make the cards appear legitimate—and then resold those cards and information to individuals within the metro Detroit community. – Frankly, with the way the Federal Government is acting, this theft is almost understandable and acceptable.
- No! I am not condoning an illegal action! I am simply stating that Pelosi and her ilk do 10-times worse hourly by Congressional standards and get away with those crimes!
- Donald Peter Auzine of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit health care fraud. Bonnie Jean Lawless Diaz of Slidell, Louisiana, pleaded guilty to misprision (or knowing concealment) of the commission of a felony. From March 2014 through October 2016, Auzine, the marketing manager at Prime Pharmacy Solutions, defrauded TRICARE and other benefit programs. Diaz concealed the fraud by knowingly submitting compounded medications for which there was no medical necessity. Both will be sentenced on January 4, 2022.
- Amanda Dawn Rains of Fayetteville, Arkansas, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail, wire, and healthcare fraud, obtaining federal employees’ compensation fraudulently, and paying kickbacks. Rains, a former executive with a Rogers medical supply and billing company, participated in 2013 to 2017, defrauding the US government and private insurance companies.
- Robert Seifert of Utica, New York, was sentenced to two years in prison for making telephonic threats to Albany Stratton VA Medical Center employees. He admitted that on January 14, 2021, he made successive calls to three separate employees and left each of them threatening voicemails in which he used demeaning and offensive language. Seifert’s threats caused the employees to fear for their safety and property. He will also serve one year of post-imprisonment supervised release.
- Patsy Truglia of Parkland, Florida, pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud and one count of making a false statement in a matter involving a healthcare benefit program. From January 2018 through April 2019, Truglia and other conspirators generated medically unnecessary physicians’ orders via their telemarketing operation for orthotic devices like knee, back, and wrist braces. Truglia, co-defendant Ruth Bianca Fernandez, and other conspirators caused approximately $25 million in fraudulent durable medical equipment claims to be submitted to Medicare, resulting in approximately $12 million in payments.
- Larry Ray Bon, 62, was sentenced to over 16 years in prison for shooting a firearm inside the West Palm Beach VA Medical Center in Florida. Bon brought the firearm to the emergency room, and after becoming frustrated with medical staff, he retrieved it from his wheelchair and fired several shots. In March 2020, he pleaded guilty to three counts of assaulting, resisting, or impeding federal employees and one count of possession of a firearm in a federal facility with the intent to commit a crime. At that time, Bon was committed to the custody of the US Attorney General for 25 years of mental health care and treatment at a suitable medical facility. However, Bon was determined to no longer need psychiatric hospitalization and was recently sentenced accordingly.
Finally, if you want a really good reading, you can visit the VA-OIG page and see the lowlights of the VA-OIG’s reports for yourself by visiting the page here. Excluded from this list are the usual reports of malfeasance and misfeasance captured in the comprehensive healthcare inspection (CHIp) reports, where we find the exact carbon-copied hits from report to report. We find moral distress, problems in staffing, continued refusals by leadership to train staff, and the ever-present refusal to attend disruptive committee meetings. Also omitted from this summation were the inspection of veteran centers and the myriad of failures, bureaucratic ineptitudes, and abysmal behaviors. Frankly, I could not stand being depressed more by writing and analyzing another moment’s detestable and criminal behavior.
What curdles the food in my stomach, this is just the VA. What about all the other official and unofficial government agencies in the alphabet of the executive, legislative and judicial branches of what we collectively call “the government.” To all the freedom-loving people in America, please awake and arise; we need you!
© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
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