New Year – Same Ol’ Disaster at the VA! – Are You Disgusted yet?

Angry Wet ChickenWords fail to describe how much I detest seeing the same abuses week-after-week, month-after-month, and year-over-year.  To witness the disaster known colloquially as The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), as told from the Office of Inspector General (VA-OIG).  Not merely witnessing but also being abused by the VA leaves such a bitter taste in my mouth.

Matthew C. McPherson of Olathe, Kansas, was sentenced to two years and four months in federal prison without parole for defrauding the government.  From September 2009 to March 2018, McPherson participated in a conspiracy to obtain contracts set aside by the federal government for award to small businesses owned and controlled by veterans, service-disabled veterans, and certified minorities.  McPherson, who is neither a certified minority nor a veteran, owned and operated construction companies that used the veteran or minority status of coconspirators to obtain federal contracts to which the companies would otherwise not be entitled.  The companies received approximately $346 million in federal contracts.  On June 3, 2019, McPherson pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and major program fraud.  In addition to his prison sentence, McPherson has forfeited to the government more than $5.5 million, which represents his share of the fraud proceeds.”

Honest question, how is this fraud any different from an elected official using insider trading to profit off the stock market?  On another note, does this sound like a plea deal?  If so, what was the deal, and who is being targeted?  Plea deals used to be rare; now, they are cropping up anytime the government has a shaky case.  Could Mr. McPherson have beaten the entire crime by using a better lawyer or connecting with a more powerful politician; of course, and that is disgusting!

I have applied for these government contracts, and the paperwork burden is immense, the bureaucrats authoritative and disreputable.  When will the bureaucrats face criminal charges for abuse of power in allowing for the defrauding of government?  Simple question, yet one to which no elected official will address.VA 3

Speaking of fraud and the need for bureaucrats needing to be held accountable:

“Dr. David Bellamah, a vascular surgeon who operates vein and surgery centers in Missoula and Kalispell, Montana, has agreed to pay the federal government $3.7 million to settle alleged False Claims Act violations.  According to the civil complaint, from January 1, 2015, to March 31, 2017, Bellamah performed medically unnecessary surgeries based on improper techniques and submitted fraudulent bills for payment to four federal healthcare programs, including Medicare, Medicaid, TRICARE, and CHAMPVA.  The settlement agreement between Bellamah and the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Montana, Department of Health and Human Services OIG, Defense Health Agency, VA, and a third party directs Bellamah to pay approximately $1.9 million in restitution and $1.8 million in additional damages.”

The article link is missing from the VA.gov website, reason unknown as of this writing.  I received an email about this story, which is why I know of it, but cannot link someone else to it.  Still, the questions remain, someone in the VA legion of bureaucrats had to have known and contributed to facilitating this fraud, and they are not being held accountable.  Why?

  • Patsy Truglia of Parkland, Florida, was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison for his role in two consecutive conspiracies to commit healthcare fraud.  According to a multiagency investigation, from January 2018 to April 2019, Truglia and his coconspirators generated medically unnecessary physicians’ orders via a telemarketing operation for durable medical equipment (DME).”
  • Ramón Julbe-Rosa pleaded guilty to 12 counts including theft of government property and introducing unapproved new drugs into the United States.  His multiple fraud schemes included defrauding the Social Security Administration and Medicare by receiving Social Security Disability Insurance benefit payments while working; fraudulently receiving unemployability benefits from VA; and falsely stating that his primary residence—purported to be in Morovis, Puerto Rico—was damaged by Hurricane Maria, leading to the fraudulent approval of a Small Business Administration Disaster loan.”
  • Wayne Bowen of Jacksonville, Florida, has pleaded guilty to aggravated identity theft for using his estranged identical twin brother’s name, Social Security card, and military discharge papers to apply for federally subsidized housing benefits.  Due to his fraudulent use of his twin’s identity.”
  • Matthew Smith of Palm Beach, Florida, has pleaded guilty to his role in a compounding pharmacy scheme that defrauded the Department of Defense’s Tricare and VA’s CHAMPVA benefit programs of approximately $88 million.  Smith admitted to his role in fraudulently billing the two insurance providers for expensive, medically unnecessary compound drugs.  To further the scheme, Smith and his coconspirators paid approximately $40 million in kickbacks to patients, patient recruiters, and doctors in exchange for them ordering expensive pain creams, scar creams, and vitamins without regard to the patients’ medical needs.”
  • Seven Texas doctors have agreed to pay more than $1.1 million to resolve False Claims Act allegations involving illegal remuneration in violation of the Anti-Kickback Statute and Stark Law.  According to a multiagency investigation, from 2015 to 2018, the doctors allegedly received thousands of dollars in illegal remuneration from eight management service organizations (MSOs) in exchange for ordering laboratory tests from Rockdale Hospital doing business as Little River Healthcare, True Health Diagnostics LLC, and Boston Heart Diagnostics Corporation.  Little River funded the illegal remuneration to the doctors in the form of volume-based commissions paid to independent contractor recruiters, who used the MSOs to pay numerous doctors for their referrals.”

?u=http3.bp.blogspot.com-CIl2VSm-mmgTZ0wMvH5UGIAAAAAAAAB20QA9_IiyVhYss1600showme_board3.jpg&f=1&nofb=1Take a moment, read the full articles reporting these crimes, and ask yourself, have ALL the guilty parties been held accountable before the law, or are some parties noticeably missing?  If you reach different conclusions, please note this in the comments, and let’s discuss.  Show me your thinking, I want to learn!

Fraud, to succeed, requires willing people in positions of authority not to do their jobs properly.  Yet, for all the rules, mandates, political attention, and legislation, the fraud continues.  Why; because if you are the approving authority and have a plausible excuse, you are never held accountable!  The situation is untenable; the maze of red tape regulations preclude honest people from participating and opens the doors for nefarious actors to swindle, cheat, steal, and profit.  Simple question, when will those legally responsible for not allowing fraudulent activities be held accountable?VA 3

The VA-OIG conducted a Comprehensive Healthcare Inspection (CHIPs) of the Charles George VAMC in Asheville, North Carolina.  Want to understand more about the quagmire of the VA personally?  Read one of these CHIP reports.  Long have I wondered how leadership could be fully measured when the leader of the hospital leadership team has been in their position for two (2) days.  The VA-OIG couches this by claiming the associate director had been in the role for 18-years.  Do you see a problem?VA 3

Where and how are veterans being abused, staff training, and the “Disruptive behavior committee.”  Some might ask, how is staff training an abuse to veterans?  What do you consider “disruptive behavior?”  Did you know if you ask a doctor questions, that doctor can report you as presenting disruptive behavior to the Federal VA Police and get the veteran charged and fined?  If you request to speak to the administrators and they refuse, you can also be charged with presenting disruptive behavior, hindering hospital operations, disturbing patients, being arrested, and fined?  The bureaucrats have designed a self-fulfilling system in the VA that protects wrong-doing and punishes anyone who dares question the status quo, and this is trained into the employees.  Worse, this is about the only training they receive that is competently delivered!

A CHIP was completed at VISN 8, the Sunshine Healthcare Network in St. Petersburg, Florida.  Congratulations are for passing the CHIP with only two recommendations for improvement.  Honestly issued praise.  My concern is the low bar for success that was surpassed, but this is not the fault of VISN 8’s leadership, but the VA leadership in Washington, DC.VA 3

Long have these articles mentioned and decried the designed incompetence found in every single process, procedure, and action taken by the VA.  It is not surprising then that design incompetence is still seen and cost resources.  Nothing new, but you, the taxpayer, need to be aware of this, for the excuses have run so thin you can read contractual mouse print through the excuses!

The history:

“In October 2017, VA entered into an interagency agreement with the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) to use its Electronic Catalog (ECAT) to order VA medical supplies and equipment not available through existing contracts.  VA created the ECAT Ordering Guide to describe VA policies and procedures for placing orders and outline the ordering officials’ responsibilities.  As of April 1, 2021, VA had spent approximately $592 million on purchases through ECAT.”

The findings:

“The VA-OIG found that the Procurement and Logistics Office (P&LO) did not govern the ECAT program adequately.

    • The ECAT Ordering Guide excludes the requirement for VA ordering officials to consider the Federal Supply Schedule (FSS) contracts for sales orders; purchasing through FSS could have saved VA up to $4.4 million.
    • The guide also incorrectly describes how to apply the Rule of Two, potentially excluding veteran-owned businesses from contracting opportunities.
    • Ordering officials did not follow documentation requirements in the ECAT Ordering Guide, and P&LO did not conduct required annual reviews of the interagency agreement.”

Do you see the designed incompetence?  The VA gets green-lighted to consolidate ordering to save time and money, then develops the processes and procedures to open the door for fraud, theft, and abuse, providing excuses for the VA-OIG to accept when responsibility and auditing occurs.  Hence, roadblocks are launched instead of saving money and reducing the government’s costs.  Instead of bringing order out of chaos, more logs of chaos are added to the fire.VA 3

Worst of all, the VA-OIG has to invest money to tell the VA common-sense solutions, couched as recommendations, to fix the problems the VA purposefully designed into the process.  That is your tax dollars at work, your neighbors losing opportunities, and your employers getting the shaft intentionally by the VA.  Again, only for emphasis, I ask, “When will the bureaucrats be held accountable for their malfeasance and culpability in abusing people, committing fraud and theft, and refusing to do their jobs properly?”

When discussing malfeasance and designed incompetence, the following inspection at the Carl T. Hayden VAMC in Phoenix, Arizona, is applicable as an example.  The VA-OIG conducted an inspection to assess allegations concerning sterile processing services.  The list of findings reveals a lot of bureaucratic shenanigans, and with my knowledge of the leadership, I deduce the shenanigans were driven by leadership at the hospital.

  • The VA-OIG found Sterile Processing Services (SPS) staff failed to don personal protective equipment in decontamination areas.
  • The VA-OIG did not substantiate that SPS staff falsified Resi-Tests by documenting the same lot number for endoscopes.
  • The VA-OIG identified missing documentation of Resi-Test results from October through December 2020 but found that the policy was followed. Leading to a question about the effectiveness of the policies and the designed incompetence in those policies and procedures, which the VA-OIG never addressed as this would have been outside the investigatory scope; more designed incompetence?
  • The VA-OIG found no infection concerns associated with inadequate reprocessing of equipment.
  • The VA-OIG did not substantiate that SPS staff failed to follow validation testing requirements for biological indicators and Bowie-Dick tests for sterilizers.
  • The VA-OIG found that SPS staff followed reprocessing steps according to standard operating procedures and instructions for use.
  • The VA-OIG did not substantiate that SPS staff did not have adequate reprocessing supplies.
  • The VA-OIG found that floor-grade instruments received in decontamination areas were discarded and not reprocessed.
  • The VA-OIG found that SPS staff reviewed instructions for loaner trays upon receipt at the facility.
  • The VA-OIG did not substantiate that SPS staff failed to receive documentation for instruments sterilized at another VA facility.
  • The VA-OIG concluded that SPS leaders were knowledgeable of the practice standards.VA 3

Again, a mixed bag of findings.  After a tumultuous year of sterile scandals, it is refreshing (almost) to observe a sterile facility operating at standard.  Draw your own conclusions about the role of the leadership in this inspection.  To me, the most critical part of sterilization of reusable equipment is the proper use of personal protective equipment, but the VA-OIG did not appear to see this as crucial as I do.  From the inspections I have experienced, failing to use personal protective equipment properly is an automatic failing grade, but the VA-OIG only made a single recommendation for improvement.

quote-mans-inhumanity-2While the above are not all the reports from the VA-OIG launching 2022, they present the bulk of the criticisms and reflect the need for greater scrutiny and improved leadership at the VA.  More to the point, these represent the danger the American public is in from a runaway government that keeps biggering (with a nod to The Lorax and Dr. Seuss)!  The VA is abusing your veteran neighbors, and you are paying for it.  Doesn’t this stir in you feelings motivating to action?  If not, please ask yourself why.  Do veterans deserve to be abused relentlessly?  Do you like being complicit in a crime perpetrated by bureaucrats, cheered on by elected officials, and paid for by your tax dollars and the future of your children through forced taxation and out-of-control debt?  The choice is yours, I know my choice, and I WILL continue to resist the government atrocities every step of the way!

© Copyright 2022 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.

Wants vs. Needs – Problems vs. Inconvenience

?u=http2.bp.blogspot.com-BKwWSo412lIUngTRkmSYwIAAAAAAAARd8GqxDhvovmRgs1600salestaxcartoon.jpg&f=1&nofb=1I recently encountered a highly emotionally driven individual who claimed to have a problem but could not identify whether they were experiencing a problem or inconvenience.  This person wanted but could not identify a need.  The heaped emotional hyperbole only added fuel to the fires of hostility.  From this encounter, this article is born.

Wants

Wants are things we wish for, desire strongly, and do almost anything to acquire.  First-world nations generally want material things, and in many parts of the world, food is wished-for in sufficient quantity to silence the hunger pains and provide a good night’s sleep.  Is coffee a want or a need?

Needs

Needs are items that are necessary, indispensable, and required for survival.  Many people claim they need coffee in the morning to “start their day,” but the need is the caffeine, not the coffee.  Coffee is a want as the preferred method for obtaining caffeine.  Lacking coffee, is this a problem or inconvenience?

Problems

Problems cause difficulties, presenting a puzzle requiring solving, people who are difficult to deal with, and personal matters requiring action, not merely words, represent problems.  For example, lacking coffee, the problem becomes how do I obtain sufficient caffeine to begin my day—a problem requiring solving to feel empowered to act.  A want, masquerading as a need, presenting as a problem, is merely an inconvenience in truth.

Inconvenience

Inconvenience is rooted in the word inconvenient, and something inconvenient is merely an annoyance or a disruption in the normal routine.  Walking to the coffee pot and not finding sufficient grounds to make a cup of coffee is an inconvenience as it disrupts a plan.

A simple analogy, but adequate to the purpose of helping to identify the differences between each item under investigation.  Wants are desires embodied; not getting those wants is inconvenient; plotting for a way to obtain that which is desired presents a problem or a puzzle for solving but cannot ever elevate a want to a need.  Needs are more critical problems requiring solving; not obtaining a need is not inconvenient; it is imperative, which if not resolved always leads to a negative consequence.

Exclamation MarkFor example, the Daily Signal is reporting, sourced from the Media Research Center, that the ratio for censoring by big tech is 53 to 1 Republicans to Democrats.  Does this present a problem or an inconvenience?  Is less censorship a want for Republicans or more censorship a need for Democrats?  Some people will erroneously claim, “It depends upon which side of the political aisle you reside.”

Why is this an erroneous claim; for the simple fact that censorship is a denial of liberty and freedom.  When one person is denied their rights and freedoms for political gain, everyone loses all their freedoms and liberties.  The Second Amendment cannot stand with the First Amendment.  Theft of the First Amendment for one person is a roadmap to stealing the First Amendment rights of all people.  The Third and Fourth Amendments to the US Constitution fall apart by removing the First and Second Amendments.  The legal framework of the Rule of Law is forever destroyed when the US Bill of Rights can be controlled by political operators for personal or political gain.  The importance of understanding the interconnectedness of the Rule of Law with morals, values, and the social contract cannot be understated.

What is the Social Contract?

The social contract is an agreement that all capable people living together in a society form with each other, declaring they will abide by a specific set of behaviors, ideals, and shared beliefs codified into law, which undergirds the “social fabric” of a society.  The social contract of the United States of America is found in the US Constitution and the US Bill of Rights, the first amendments to the US Constitution.  By choosing to be labeled an American, we agree to honor the rights of all people to pursue life, liberty, and happiness, so long as their pursuit does not inhibit another person from pursuing the same.President Adams

We understand that the pursuits of life, liberty, and happiness are a path, a journey, not a destination, and not a guarantee.  We respect those who achieve and emulate them to reach the same potential destination.  We Americans possess hope, born of struggle, that we can achieve liberty and happiness fairly and realize the consequences are ours alone to enjoy or curse based upon our decisions individually.

Let me pause here; currently in K-12 education, witnessed in Detroit, Chicago, Baltimore, Los Angeles, Seattle, and many other locations, the public education system is intentionally abusing children.  Stealing their potential by refusing to teach them, and in so doing is raising generations of people who will struggle their entire lives in captivity and ignorance.  These actions by teachers, administrators, and elected political officials are intentional and stand in direct opposition to the social contract.  However, the children, and their parents, retain the ability to choose a different path, even if it means trying to learn how to read, write, and figure independent from the school abuse.  Individual agency to pursue life, liberty, and happiness is the first and quintessential aspect of being an American!

Here’s the rub…

Despite government intervention, the government arbitrarily picks for political gain and personal advancement (through cheating) those which achieve without effort, and Americans inherently despise this aspect of government.  Consider the vitriol thrown at Hunter Biden, who has achieved, lived beyond his means, and benefitted from his family’s political connections.  The Pelosi’s, Kennedy’s, Clinton’s, Obama’s, Romney’s, and so many others who have achieved, living off the backs of pioneers, but have not contributed, breaks the social contract.  Theft, lying, and breach of honor in America are crimes, but when the criminals escape justice, this breeds contempt, copy cats, and empowers others into chasing the same path to a modicum of success through devious and nefarious means—rendering the social contract impotent, sundering any hope of success without government intervention, and placing millions of Americans into captivity.quote-mans-inhumanity

Look at the disgust America has for Big Technology firms.  While these firms have achieved and pioneered success, they have turned monopolistic, oligarchical, and thwarted their competitors, all for personal gain.  How are these companies pursuing keeping their gains?  They are employing the government authority.  They are using mergers to acquire intellectual property to protect their revenues, abusing the power of law, all of which harms competition.  This also breaks the social contract, sundering the social fabric of America and destroying the pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness of others.

The want of power is breeding a need for correction in America by the oppressed.  Look at the rising feelings of freedom as expressed in the #FreedomConvoy.  Other examples include the protests against the interminable government mandates, the continued spreading of information deemed by the government, and Big Tech as “misinformation.”  Presenting us with a question is this a problem or inconvenience; the answer is PROBLEM!  This means there is a solution to the problem and a path to fix the rips in the social fabric and mend the social contract in America.

What is the solution?

With a nod to The Lorax and Dr. Seuss:

“I, the Once-ler, felt sad
as I watched them all go.
BUT…
business is business!
And business must grow
regardless of crummies in tummies, you know.

I meant no harm.  I most truly did not.
But I had to grow bigger.  So bigger I got.
I biggered my factory.  I biggered my roads.
I biggered my wagons.  I biggered the loads
of the Thneeds, I shipped out.  I was shipping them forth
to the South!  To the East!  To the West!  To the North!
I went right on biggering… selling more Thneeds.
And I biggered by money, which everyone needs.”

Return to the Rule of Law, smaller government, and stricter adherence to a moral code.  Some will claim, also erroneously, this is not the solution or is only a solution in a “perfect” “utopian” world.  However, I counter with the following, “What has brought America to this precipice?”  The 1880s saw the rise of bureaucrats restricting the ability to read, as a means of controlling the population, born of fear, and as racist an action as enslaving people!  Post-WWI, repeated more severely Post-WWII, the rise in government as a means of “recovering from war.”

Father Mulcahy 4Trace through history, and every time the government has undertaken a path to grow, the industrial complex has more closely tied itself to biggering government as a path to pursue life, liberty, and happiness.  However, the growth of government has come at the expense of the electorate through increased laws and legislation, bureaucratic mandate, and larger standing police organizations.  All this while simultaneously reducing the quality of education, restricting the power to read, write, and figure, and calling the advances “progress.”  Restrictions on competition, merging to form larger military-industrial organizations, and increased costs have shut out citizens from politics, thus capturing the reigns of government to keep feeding the growing beast.

Recently Biden has begun pounding the war drums to escape the financial problems, social unrest, and other problems at home.  He is sending congressional representatives out to try and support protecting the national borders of Ukraine while removing and destroying the borders of the USA.  Why take this path of war and destruction; because it has always worked previously.  If Biden can get America focused on war, he can keep biggering the government without scrutiny and with the tacit approval of the electorate.

?u=http3.bp.blogspot.com-CIl2VSm-mmgTZ0wMvH5UGIAAAAAAAAB20QA9_IiyVhYss1600showme_board3.jpg&f=1&nofb=1Look at history, especially recent history, and you will find that the most nefarious, liberty stealing regulations, legislation, and bureaucratic mandates have come while America was focused on 9/11, Afghanistan, Iran, ISIS, and the list goes on and on.  The hellaciously destructive and misnamed “Patriot Act” was born from 9/11, when had we merely focused on enforcing the laws already on the books, Americans inside America would not have lost all constitutional rights within their own country.  The Patriot Act is but one example of the problems created by confusing wants and needs, mistaking a problem for an inconvenience, and using the cudgel of government authority to force behavior changes in the citizenry.

The 9/11 commission found hundreds of places where the bureaucrats enforcing government failed, but were any of these people held accountable?  Were any bureaucrats forced from their cushy jobs and made to pay restitution?  Of course not, because this would have made the American government at fault as a co-conspirator and facilitator of 9/11’s terror attacks.  So, the solution was to avoid culpability, shirk responsibility, and appease the bureaucrats at the expense of all citizens.Gravy Train

COVID-19 is another example of runaway liberty theft, rights reduction, and smoke and mirror charades.  The government seized power from the people, biggered itself, and broke the laws for convenience while the electorate was focused elsewhere.  How’s that bigger government working for you?  Are you tired of being authoritatively ruled, restricted in your pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness?  Do you understand the problem?  If so, what do you need?

COVID-19 is a viral disease, humanity has survived a lot of viral diseases, yet COVID is somehow different, or so we have been told.  Since COVID kills less than .01%, the response has to be the complete and total destruction of the Rule of Law, the restriction of rights, liberties, and the destruction of all we have held dear.  But none of those mandating will answer why or how COVID is different from any other viral disease humanity has survived.

The government needs to bigger itself, or it dies.  In competition with a bigger government, the citizens need to be “… secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects.”  The party winning in this competition must be the citizen, and the citizen must staunchly defend all encroachment to their privacy, rights, freedoms, and liberties under the Rule of Law.  We, the American Citizens, deserve a smaller and less expensive government; this is not a problem or inconvenience; it is a necessity!

LinkedIn ImageIf you believe in the potential of all to pursue life, liberty, and happiness, join me!  If you prefer the thumb of government and the boot of oppression, find me when you tire of being abused, cheated, used as cannon fodder for illicit wars, and robbed from, so a select few government employees and elected representatives can live off your sweat and tears.  This is the stark reality we are living in right now!  We must choose a side and then stand.  As Father Mulchay said, “You can’t miss when you have good material.”  We, those who stand fast in our liberty, cannot miss, we have good material (the US Constitution), and we can win the day!

© Copyright 2022 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.