Scrutinize the Executive Branch – The Charge for the Legislative Branch: Part 1

In what has become typical and usual, the following stories arrive:

From 2019 to 2021, Ira Westbrook of Bozeman, Montana, served as the fiduciary of an elderly relative who had suffered a stroke and became disabled.  A multi-agency investigation found that, during these 16 months, Westbrook stole more than $57,000 in Social Security and VA benefits and used the stolen funds to purchase personal items, including a Jeep Wrangler, a travel trailer, and other day-to-day expenses.”

From 2016 until 2018, Sloane Signal-Debose of Slidell, Louisiana, served as the fiduciary of a veteran who needed assistance managing his finances.  During that time, she took more than $100,000 from the veteran’s accounts, used it as the down payment on a home in her name, and used additional funds from the veteran to pay contractors working on the home.  Signal-Debose then submitted false records to VA to hide her misuse of the veteran’s funds.  The former fiduciary pleaded guilty to misappropriating funds and faces up to five years in federal prison.  The VA OIG conducted this investigation.

In 2013, Brandi Goldman of Jonesboro, Arkansas, was married to a US Army reservist who suffered a severe traumatic brain injury in a service-connected accident.  As a result of this injury, her husband had many serious physical challenges, and Goldman was appointed as his guardian and fiduciary.  Between April 2015 and November 2017, Goldman received more than $258,600 in VA disability payments and $36,000 in Social Security payments.  During that timeframe, she withdrew close to $200,000 in cash and accrued about $900 in ATM and overdraft fees.  Goldman admitted to spending much cash to fund her methamphetamine habit, spending $150 on methamphetamine two to three times per week.  She also admitted that five other people moved into the residence with her and her husband, none of whom paid rent or contributed to expenses, some of whom she regularly gave cash to.  She also admitted to paying $68,000 in cash for another home, furnishings for the home, multiple vehicles, and a motor home.  Goldman was sentenced to 20 months in prison, three years of supervised release, and $143,000 in restitution after previously pleading guilty to misappropriation by a fiduciary.  The VA OIG and Social Security Administration OIG conducted the investigation.”

Why are these stories of particular interest to the supreme legislative body in the United States of America?  The executive branch has refused to police its branch of government, and crimes like this have become all too familiar.  You, the Congressional bodies of these the United States, are duty-bound and sworn to perform two jobs, scrutinize the executive branch (harshly when necessary), and write laws.  You have recently failed too often in monitoring the executive branch, and this story perfectly represents what happens when the executive branch is not examined minutely!  Tell the US Public who put you in elected office, how these crimes continue and what programs and processes they MUST change to prevent them in the future.

By pleading for the legislative branch to scrutinize and audit the executive branch minutely, I am in no way condoning or diminishing the personal accountability of those who committed crimes.  These three examples are from the October and November press releases of 2022.  The widespread ability to commit fraud is a symptom of a more significant problem at the VA.  Their leaders have consistently been able to boondoggle, evade, and profit from abusing veterans through designed incompetence, criminal neglect, and obtuse actions.  When will Congressional leaders take action to clean up the Federal Government in general and the VA specifically?

The US House of Representatives holds the purse strings for the executive branch; use this leverage to claw back your powers and authority to balance the Federal Government and demand accountability from those empowered to lead their designated branches of the executive branch of government.  Let’s talk about patterns; in less than 45 days, three cases of fiduciary fraud were closed, and the speed of closing these cases has escalated throughout 2022.  The American people will see more, not less, of these fraudsters being underreported by the US Media before the year ends.

Shifting slightly, let’s talk about government employees and the need for more scrutiny of the executive branch.

Bruce Minor, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was sentenced to two years in prison, three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay $462,256 in restitution for his scheme to embezzle money from the Philadelphia VA Medical Center.  Between December 2015 and September 2019, Minor, a former travel clerk, created fraudulent travel reimbursement claims in the names of at least three other VA medical center employees.  He then diverted the funds into bank accounts he controlled.  The VA OIG investigated this case.”

Kyhati Undavia, of Houston, Texas, was sentenced to 27 months in federal prison after previously pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud.  From December 2012 to December 2018, Undavia hired employees to market Memorial Pharmacy, which she controlled and operated, to physicians as a place to submit compounded drug prescriptions.  Instead of providing prescriptions directly to the patients who could select a pharmacy of their choice, physicians sent the prescriptions directly to Memorial Pharmacy.  Then, Undavia paid the physicians illegal kickbacks for the prescriptions.  Beneficiaries often received medicated creams that they did not need or want.  Undavia received approximately $22 million from TRICARE, Department of Labor Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs, and CHAMPVA for the prescriptions.”

These stories also fall into the same timeframe mentioned above.  But, they are not the only stories from 2022 where VA employees conducted long-term fraud for personal profit.  Here’s the rub: hundreds of additional employees knew of these schemes, were probably running their schemes, and haven’t been caught, and nothing is being done by VA leadership to cease the fraud and abuse of veterans by VA employees.  There is a culture of corruption at the VA, long hidden by scheming and abusive leaders and condoned by previous Congresses, that must be stopped!  What will you, the congressional leaders of the United States, do to halt this insanity, demand personal accountability, and clean house of the designed incompetence that allows these criminal activities to flourish?  The American People are waiting!

The following site holds press releases for the VA specifically, but investigations often cross into Social Security, the Department of Defense, state investigatory bodies, the FBI, and more.  Suppose nothing else is learned from only perusing this site, that more scrutiny needs to be done to every single department of the executive branch.  In that case, we, the American People, might count ourselves lucky.  However, this is not the case.  The rot from poor leadership, criminal mismanagement, and supreme dereliction of duty is etched deeply into the workings of the executive branch operations, and more needs additional discussion.

03 November 2022, the VA-OIG released a report titled, “VHA Progressed in the Follow-Up of Canceled Appointments during the Pandemic but Could Use Additional Oversight Metrics.”  The report only covers the time from 2020 to the present, and regular readers know that the VA has been failing on every measurable metric for over a decade.  To couch in politically correct non-threatening jargon, how designed incompetence continues to hamper and hinder is not surprising.  That the current Congress has bought the excuses hook, line, and sinker, from the inept VA leadership, was not surprising either.  This article is about the future, and the next Congress MUST take immediate and direct action to root cause and improve VA performance!

31 October 2022, the VA-OIG released the following: “Review of VA’s Staffing and Vacancy Reporting under the MISSION Act of 2018.”  This is a report about how the VA continues failing to report improvements in hiring practices to the legislative branch.  The report details VA leadership’s continued failures through designed incompetence.  Tell me, if you were in charge of a report for your business that is essential to receiving funding, would you keep your job if, from 2018 to the present, you still cannot report what is happening and why and be held personally accountable for a report to a legislative body?  Don’t take my word for it; read the report, and be careful of the temperature of your blood boiling!

Unfortunately, this behavior is the normal operating procedure for the VA.  The same can be easily and quickly witnessed in every other Federal Department of the US Government under the executive branch.  As the legislative branch, you are duty-bound to investigate and demand compliance in a timely manner.  Where have you been; more importantly, will you allow these problems to continue or kill them?

Do you doubt designed incompetence is a standard operating procedure?  Let’s discuss another part of the MISSION Act of 2018 that the VA-OIG recently reported on, “Additional Actions Needed to Fully Implement and Assess Impact of the Patient Referral Coordination Initiative,” dated 27 October 2022.  The Referral Coordination Initiative (RCI) is a program to improve timely access to care using community providers.  RCI sounds good in theory, but as usual, in the practical application, the program is full of self-serving charlatans, unsupervised or poorly supervised people, weak policies and procedures, and zero accountability!  Plus, when the veteran runs into problems with local providers, reporting these problems is so time-consuming as to be ineffectual at best!

A personal example that was reported to the VA when it happened, and nothing was done but to issue the provider a check.  Dr. Herekar, Neurologist, clinic: Advanced Neurology Epilepsy & Sleep Center, El Paso, Texas.  A VA Primary Care Provider wrote to my employer on VA Letterhead with a wet signature, declaring my inability to wear a mask.  Dr. Herekar’s office was presented with this letter and hassled me before both appointments for not wearing a mask, becoming hostile, argumentative, and a nuisance over the mask issue, even after I complied with putting on a face shield.  23 September 2021, over Facebook messenger, I was informed that I would be invited to find a different provider due to my refusal to wear a mask.  Imagine that; Facebook Messenger became the medium of choice for ending a patient’s relationship with a medical provider.  What did the VA tell me to do; file endless paperwork with TRICARE and then disregard the problem’s urgency.  Worse, the medical care for the neurological issues decreased, and I have had to wait, sit, and hope for future consideration and possible treatment.  Does this sound like an aberration; it is, unfortunately not!

The VA Leadership realized if community care succeeds, they lose power to control the destiny of veterans.  Thus, they implemented the MISSION Act of 2018 with such feet dragging, designing incompetence into every facet of the program, to promote more complaints to Congress, and hopefully to squash the MISSION Act of 2018 and end community care.  07 November 2022, while waiting to speak to representatives of Community Care Services at the VA Out Patient Clinic in EL Paso, the veteran being served ahead of me was told, “The provider does not fax documents, so you will need to go to the provider, and then walk the paperwork back to us.”

The normalcy of reporting providers not submitting paperwork was beyond the pale.  Not having secure document transfer processes between the VA and local providers is technically abysmal and unacceptable.  Are we in the 1990s, where the cream of technology is sending and receiving a fax?  The designed incompetence includes Luddite-like technical disciplines, and the VA_OIG and the Congress should be furious; I know I am!

Before the MISSION Act of 2018, I was making 5 and 6 trips to local providers to retrieve hard copies of medical records, going to the VA Records office, submitting the documents, and then following up 7-14 days later to find out I had to repeat this process as my VA Providers still had not received the records of my interactions with community providers.  Interestingly, in 2020 I discovered the treatment records still had not been submitted from community providers into my VA eHealth Record, from treatment received from 2012-2016.  Is the pattern of designed incompetence clearer?  Is the VA Leadeship’s intransigence more apparent?  How about the fraud, waste, and abuse of VA resources?

You, the congressional leaders, must take immediate action, not wait, not hold hearings, concrete action to demand compliance from the executive branch leaders to the congressional leaders who are held accountable to the citizens.  America is a representative republic, and it is time the bureaucrats learned the citizens are awake and interested.  You, the congressional leaders, are the people’s tool for correcting government abuses; you have two years to show you are dedicated to that principle, or you will be replaced!

© 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.

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Random Thoughts

Standing here typing, listening to Garth Brooks, my mind will not relax to sleep.  Reason unknown, but these thoughts seemed to need to be written, so here goes nothing:

  1. Can a person have too much experience and too varied a resume? I’ve been a Jack-of-all-Trades for so long, but is that damaging my professional brand?

With a tour active-duty Army, a stint in the US Army National Guard, and a tour of duty active in the Navy, my SMART transcripts are thick with experience.  Add in the correspondence courses, the moving from state-to-state in the guard, I have collected job specialties/Military Occupational Skills (MOS), and civilian experience to the Nth degree.

In Fourth Grade, I heard about Cracker Jacks, how they were specialists in being Johnny on the spot to fill the needs demanded.  I have turned this into project, program, and change management, and supported it with formal and informal education.  What is too much?  How do I know when I reach that point?The important thing is not to stop questioning. ~Albert Einstein #motivation #questioning # ...

  1. Garth Brooks sings a song called “Ireland.” The song is more of a saga than a song, and it tells the story of an Irish Army, on the short end of long odds and outmanned.  Since I first heard this song, it has struck those chords in my soul, reason unknown.  Having been on the receiving end of long odds and understaffed, I understand the sentiment of this song on an almost spiritual level.

I’ve been in professional situations where I was the victim of lies, physical violence, and sexual assaults from both men and women.  People who desire to make themselves feel better by making another person worse.  I’ve been fighting bullies my whole life; bring it on.  You cannot put the “Skeer” on me!  Funnily enough, I sure have the Skeer on a LOT of others, mostly without ever trying.

Recently an event from the US Navy came forcibly to mind, one of the few times I put the Skeer on another person, then kept that Skeer up to the day I left the ship.  I had a member of my chain of command physically assault me.  I stepped toe-to-toe, looked him straight in the eye, and swore to the depths of my eternal soul that if he ever thought of touching me again, I was going to stuff his lifeless body into a saltwater compensated fuel cell, and all they would find of his remains would be atomic molecules as they went through the engines and into the atmosphere.  He never looked me in the eye again, touched me, and left the space crying.  I never touched him, but I got my point across.

I have carried the injuries from that day to this, and the VA refuses to acknowledge these injuries or their severity.  The VBA continues to deny that a male can experience military sexual trauma from another male.  But I put the Skeer on the perpetrators, and this comes with no satisfaction.  The law refused to support me; UCMJ failed even to acknowledge these issues while punishing me for the smallest of infractions.  Where is justice?

I was one of a tiny minority who was sent to Captain’s Mast (UCMJ, Article 15) proceedings, whose NCOER score went up after being sent before the mast.  My lowest NCOER score was 3.5/4 during my entire enlisted period US Navy.  But I could not get promoted, refused transfers, and was denied everything because I was “Too valuable to the command,” but this did not stop the command from sending me before the mast every six to eight months.  I have scars from the bullies, but they never broke me!Invictus by William Ernest Henley - Parchment Style Digital Art by Alexander Ivanov

  1. Since June 2022, I have been pleading on my blog, LinkedIn, and Facebook for participants for my dissertation research. Unfortunately, the research participation rate hasn’t exceeded zero—more reasons unknown.

Have you ever sat through company training and a trainer made an impression, for good or ill, on your growth with that organization?  Do you train others, hoping you are influencing the students in your classroom?  Do your official duties include leading training efforts for your company?  Please click on the link to enter the survey/questionnaire:

Have you successfully been coached or been the coach to another?  What about mentoring?  Have you received mentoring or been a mentor?  Your insights are vital to my research, and I want to showcase your insights to other researchers to help improve company training programs.  Please, join, and let’s change the world.invictus logo 10 free Cliparts | Download images on Clipground 2021

  1. On the topic of the VBA, did you know you can have a VA provider diagnose you with PTSD and be denied VBA benefits? I would never have believed this was possible until it happened to me.  The civilian provider doing the PTSD exam claimed a person could not experience PTSD unless they were in combat.  If anyone knows how to successfully change the VBA’s mind, don’t hesitate to contact me.  I need some help on this claim!

The inconsistencies in my claim baffle and bewilder me to no end.  The abuse by the VA’s ineptitude and deleterious attitude leaves me thinking about running for office, if for no other reason than to stop the depredations of the VA.  Any lawyers out there looking for a fight, itching to correct a wrong, and want to join?

  1. I am almost finished with an advanced degree in industrial and organizational psychology (I/O Psych), and I am appalled by many of my colleagues. Not those in I/O Psych, but those in other psychological fields, psychiatry, and the medical field.  I am not denying that kids (age 9-18) are often confused about their bodies and have fanciful ideation about being a different gender.  Sometimes these thoughts and feelings need professional support to understand and cope.  But recommending surgery to mutilate their bodies permanently is morally, ethically, and borderline legally wrong!

In following the gender dysphoria topic, I have read the heartbreaking stories of those who transitioned, mutilated, and then eventually came to themselves and wept for that which has been lost.  Related on these blog pages are several stories of people I have known, who have experienced rape, beatings, and tremendous pain due to gender confusion, jealousy, greed, and a compliant medical industry hellbent on doing harm.  Why?

I repeat my question, only for emphasis, if your actions are so life-affirming and positive for you, why are you so hate-filled, angry, and abusive to others?  If the mutilation of healthy tissue is not immoral, unethical, and borderline legal, why the secrecy, silence, and walls of hate when approached on this topic?  These are honest questions.  The research does not support any conclusions; expect to plead for more research.  Science is not settled on any issue, let alone the alteration of young bodies and minds.

Writing these questions and thoughts down is therapeutic.  If they help you, I have accomplished my purpose.  I close with a thought:

“Ask yourself the hard questions, never stop asking, and allow your answers to change as you do.”  Colin Wright

I affirm in the strongest words I am not a victim, I am not the same person I was at 18, and I glory in the ability to continue to change.  Ask questions, learn, and change.

© 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.

VISN 17 – Letter of Customer Complaint

Attention:  Some information has been removed to maintain privacy or merely to protect the names of those involved.

08 July 2022

Director VISN 17
Department of Veterans Affairs
2301 E Lamar Blvd.
Suite 650
Arlington, TX
76006

Subject: Customer/Patient Complaint – The Failing Customer/Patient Experience in EL Paso, TX

Greetings,

It has been my misfortune to have been a patient in the VAOPC El Paso for a year.  In that time, my primary care provider changed three times without my consent or knowledge.  With the current PCP, I have had consults waiting for over a year, and in the latest example of disastrous service, my ability to communicate with the PCP has been closed for “abuse of secure messaging.”  Please allow me to elaborate with some specific examples and questions:

  1. I suffer from involuntary movements; these movements affect my voice. The pain in my neck dictates the severity and the frequency of involuntary movements, verbal stuttering, and loss of voice entirely.  The pain in my neck also dictates the volume of tinnitus in my ears and my ability to tolerate light.  The PCP, Neurologist, and every other PACT team provider have witnessed these issues.  These are facts and are recorded in the EHR.
  1. On 06 July 2022, an ER Doctor at Three Crosses Regional Hospital, Las Cruces, referred to these involuntary movements as dystonic tremors. 09 May 2022, Fort Bliss, Community Consult, called these same involuntary movements Tourette’s.  Why is this pertinent; from 2010, when intermittent bouts of wild mood swings and involuntary movements became 24/7/365 and present, none of the VA providers would venture an opinion about what these movements were or how to treat them.  Bringing me to my first question, aren’t all those who attain a capstone degree supposed to be lifelong learners?  If so, why are providers not held to a standard of continual learning and access to research libraries?  For my alma mater, I have access to medical libraries and spend an inordinate amount of time researching the test results and imaging reports to ensure I am an informed customer when I enter a doctor’s appointment.  Why is my provider not held to the same standard of professional courtesy?
  1. Regarding available learning opportunities and research resources, my neurologist related that research is discouraged, access denied, and funds never available to provide access to a research library. Funding, I see the Community Care amounts the VA Pays out, and because I have external insurance, I know what my insurance company pays the VA.  There is a significant disparity between what a provider is paid and what the VA receives from third-party insurance providers.  Why are funds not available to access research libraries for the providers?  Why can my PCP relate to my face that she cannot answer questions and can only prescribe drugs and send me to someone else to answer questions?  Even when I provide peer-reviewed research, the question is simply, “Does this research apply to me?” and I cannot obtain an answer.  Does this sound to you like an engaged and professional learner?
  1. Speaking only of treatment from 15 May 2021 to the present, at the EL Paso VA-OPC. The PCP has shown nothing but passive-aggressiveness, raw hostility, and a refusal to act or listen from day 1!  Until 22 March 2022, I was willing to give the benefit of the doubt to the PCP, I filed a complaint with the Patient Advocate, and a claim/problem was lodged.  A senior medical person called me, and I was to expect action.  The result, I got lied to by the provider, no follow-up from those responsible, and the Patient Advocate could not find the claim/complaint.
  1. Why was the Patient Advocate’s complaint closed without contacting me, the patient? Are you aware of the OIG inspection into this fallacious and diabolical process found at other VISNs, VAMCs, and clinics?  If so, why is this occurring at the El Paso VAOPC?  If you are unaware of this problem from the OIG or that this is ongoing at the El Paso VAOPC, I have to wonder.
  1. When reporting my ER visit to my provider to ask a series of questions, I discovered that access to Secure Messaging from myhealh.va.gov had been removed. I called my PCP and left a message asking for a call with the call center, no answer.  I called the Patient Advocate and waited on hold for 30-minutes on 07 July 2022 and 30-minutes on 08 July 2022.  Then an additional 15-minutes on 08 July 2022 to finally reach a person, who constantly interrupted me, and eventually transferred me to a party I had already spoken to.  Tell me, is this acceptable phone etiquette and the highest level of customer experience a patient can expect in VISN 17?  Better still, what is the expectation for the customer experience?
  1. 07 July 2022, the PCP’s nurse, called me and began to harangue me. Then she claimed she was not haranguing and had been “trying” to contact me.  Tell me, if you have a cell phone number on file, and the EL Paso VAOPC is regularly calling that number to conduct business, would you call a spouse’s number and leave a voicemail if you are trying to reach someone?  Wouldn’t you use secure messaging to conduct business if you know that patient struggles with verbalizing?  When I finished work (01 July 2022), I work from home; my spouse brought me her phone, complaining of a missed call and voicemail and asking me why anyone would be calling her phone to reach me, especially on a Friday before a long holiday weekend.  I call this behavior designed incompetence.  By calling my spouse, the nurse can claim, “I tried to reach the patient and left a voicemail.”  In reality, the nurse intentionally called a non-primary contact number for the patient and put the onus on the patient for the nurse’s inability to do her job promptly and efficiently.  Tell me, is this acceptable behavior in VISN 17 because this is the level of incompetence I have struggled with from day 1, and I would like to know what to expect moving forward.

Sidenote: the nurse, when she finally reached me, calling my cell phone number on 07 July 2022, blamed me for not getting ahold of me.  Not happy, not impressed, but this is the level of designed incompetence it has been my displeasure to expect from this PACT team, leading me to ask, “What is the path forward?”  The PCP blatantly and profusely refuses to answer this question.  The senior doctor claiming responsibility has declined to answer this question by changing the topic.  The nurse cannot answer this question.  The patient advocate refuses to attempt to answer this question.

  1. During the call on 07 July 2022, the nurse related that my secure messaging “privileges” had been suspended for 90-days due to “abuse of secure messaging.” Really, I have a known vocal problem, from spinal injuries to my neck, and secure messaging is the only reliable means of communicating with the clinic.  How is “secure messaging” a privilege?  How else can a patient who struggles vocally communicate with the clinic?  I am reminded on EVERY SINGLE SECURE MESSAGE that there is a 72-hour response to be expected.  I have proven my ability and willingness to wait; how long should I wait?  Since my PCP and the majority of specialty clinics at the El Paso VAOPC never respond, let alone within 72 hours, what is a patient supposed to do?  We cannot call the clinic.  We cannot get messages to the clinic verbally without going through the call center, which adds a new level of human error to the red tape of communicating with a provider.  Hence I ask, what is a patient to do to communicate with the clinic?  Of course, the follow-up question remains, when should a patient expect a response?  72-calendar hours (3-days), 72 business hours (9 business days which is the better part of two work weeks), or something else entirely?
  1. In my inbox, I have messages that have never been responded to by the patient advocates, the neurological clinic, and the PCP, to name a few. Speaking of expectations, in November 2021, my PCP and I discussed a nerve conductivity test for my hands.  As of 07 July 2022, I am still reminding the nurse to ask the doctor when I can expect a nerve conductivity test.  This is not the most egregious or the only example of the lack of response to patient experienced, but this example remains a sign of what I have been dealing with.  What is the standard expectation for turnover a provider at the VA should complete a consult within?  On the topic of expectations, after a medical appointment, how long does a provider have to enter clinical notes into the EHR and sign them?  A regular feature on the OIG reports is that unsigned EHR notes are a root cause of a veteran’s death or permanent injury.  At VISN 17, what is the written and published guideline for a provider to enter and sign notes after a clinical visit?  I have sat with providers who use Dragon speech-to-type software to capture the clinical notes and handle the consults while I sat in their offices.  Why is this not standard operating procedure?
  1. Finally, dystonic tremors and Tourette’s are movement disorders where driving is either closely monitored by the state or refused. Several times, the PCP has needed to hold a video appointment and has actively chosen not to use VA-approved and secure tools to conduct these appointments or has blown off these appointments using the weakest and most paper-thin excuses.  Are VISN 17 providers allowed to choose the technology for video appointments, or are they mandated to use VA-approved technology?  Several times, the PCP has called me, using speaker phone, to conduct a phone appointment.  I have asked about the security problems in having the provider’s side of the call on speaker phone, and the PCP dodges, ducks, and evades answering these questions.  HIPAA is a really interesting law, and the technology employed to pass HIPAA-protected information is regulated and reported annually in OIG reports, where the VA is always negligent in honoring HIPAA law.  I have some serious concerns about the behavior of the PCP, who continues to refuse to answer direct questions about why and the privacy and security of my HIPAA information.  On 08 July 2022, what did the PCP order a face-to-face appointment that requires me to drive into El Paso?  What should I expect from this careless PCP moving forward?  Why wasn’t I assigned a PCP in Las Cruces?

I am an I/O Psychologist, I study the VA as a hobby, so I can more fully write about the OIG reports and summate them on my blog.  This letter and any future communications will be posted there to maintain transparency in communications following the pattern established long ago.  As a published leadership development, adult education, and customer service professional with considerable experience, I can help identify the root causes and help design solutions for the El Paso VAOPC and VISN 17, or I can continue to be a customer/patient who documents and asks tough questions.  Either way, I am not some low-level functionary to sweep under the rug.

The immediate solution I desire is to reinstate my secure messaging abilities ASAP.  Then, since the El Paso VAOPC was able to change my provider quickly three times in succession last year, it is past time for the PCP to be removed from my PACT Team and investigated for dereliction of duties.  I offer my services to improve VISN 17, repair the damage, and ensure this insanity never transpires again.

I await your timely response!

Sincerely,

Dave Salisbury Ph.D./MBA
Dual Service Veteran
Industrial and Organizational Psychologist

CC:  Department of Veterans Affairs – Office of Inspector General

© 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.

“That’s Crazy!!!” – More Chronicles from the VA (Ch 9)

I-CareThe Department of Veterans Affairs – Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) regularly crows about reducing the backlog, improving the veteran experience, and making changes to deliver on the promise.  Every so often, another article is spread, mainly by the VA Public Relations department (PR), about how they meet the legislated obligations.  Then, unsurprisingly the truth is revealed, the curtain thrown back, and the lie exposed.  The Department of Veterans Affairs – Office of Inspector General (VA-OIG) is helping pull the curtain back, and the truth should infuriate every American.  In an investigative report dated 22 June 2022 and linked, we find the following:

“… The VBA disregarded privacy procedures so it could use a workload tracking system more quickly without receiving the appropriate security authorization.  The Mission Accountability Support Tracker (MAST) helps quantify the work VBA’s support services staff perform in response to employee requests for facility, equipment, and vehicle management; reasonable accommodation; and identification card issuance and renewal.  Because staff use personally identifiable information (PII) in their work, the information could be compromised in an unauthorized, unsecured application.  The VA-OIG found that VBA and the Office of Information and Technology (OIT) did not correctly follow privacy and security procedures.  VBA’s privacy threshold analysis was inaccurate, and OIT did not conduct a privacy impact assessment.  OIT’s misclassification of MAST as an asset resulted in insufficient security controls.  Further, VBA lacked the authority to operate MAST before using it in regional offices.”

Lacking authority equates to a leadership failure to follow their standard operating procedures (SOP).  PII being inappropriately released, nothing new at the VBA, or the VHA for that matter.  Losing veterans’ identities and taking advantage of systems for personal gain, regardless of the cost, is nothing new or surprising.  This should be where the VA organizational leadership should be focused; yet, what are they doing?  Where is Congressional oversight and scrutiny?VA 3

FY 2017, the VBA leaders devised a scheme to have third-party vendors conduct compensation and pension exams to deliver on the promise to clear the backlog on veterans’ claims.  Since FY 2017, the VBA has paid over $6.5 Billion on this scheme, and the VA-OIG found in a report dated 08 June 2022, “Some of the exams produced by vendors have not met contractual accuracy requirements.  As a result, claims processors may have used inaccurate or insufficient medical evidence to decide veterans’ claims.”  Is anyone surprised this is the result?  The compensation and pension exam is the key to accuracy in claim completion; yet, inaccurate claims are still being adjudicated wrongly, which is significantly damaging veterans and their families!

From the report, we find the following:

VBA’s governance of and accountability for the exam program needs to improve.  The identified deficiencies appear to have persisted, at least partly because of limitations with VBA’s management and oversight of the program at the time of the review.”VA 3

The VBA’s leaders designed this scheme, shackled the program with ineptitude, and hindered the improvement of the program.  Designed incompetence cannot get any better than this, and the leadership must be held accountable!  Fraud, waste, and abuse remain pillars in Federal Government governance, so why are these leaders not being held liable?

Michael Bowman, Director of IT and Security Audits, in recent Congressional Testimony, made the following claim:

Secure IT systems and networks are essential to VA’s fundamental mission of providing eligible veterans and their families with benefits and services.  VA’s information security program and its practices must protect the confidentiality, integrity, and access to VA systems and data.”

The audacity of this director to claim “confidentiality, integrity, and access” as being secure would be laughable if it weren’t so inept!  How would a non-VA Employee know the IT system is fraught with problems?  VA-OIG report regarding FISMA compliance, Dallas, Texas.  The Federal Information Security Modernization Act of 2014 (FISMA).  FISMA is a United States federal law that defines a comprehensive framework to protect government information, operations, and assets against natural and manmade threats.  FISMA OIG inspections are focused on four security control areas that apply to local facilities.  They have been selected based on their level of risk: configuration management controls, contingency planning controls, security management controls, and access controls.VA 3

What did the VA-OIG find?  “Without effective configuration management, users do not have adequate assurance that the system and network will perform as intended and to the extent needed to support the CMOP’s missions.  The access control deficiencies create risks of unauthorized access to critical network resources, inability to respond effectively to incidents, loss of personally identifiable information, or loss of life.”  All political speak for inept leaders and deplorable leadership actions.  IT/IS systems continue to fail, and the director claims the system has integrity; despicable and detestable!

Worse, the same FISMA inspection occurred at the same outpatient pharmacy mail facility in Tuscon, Arizona.  The same problems were found, in the same systems, manned by the same inept people and led by the same poor leadership.  Integrity, only if the word means sharing ineptitude between different facilities.  Access to systems and data protection, can anyone honestly trust that the IT system at the VBA or VHA is providing the fundamental tools to meet the mission?VA 3

On the topic of IT system integrity, can anyone forget the continuing problems in delivering a functional electronic health record system to the VHA?  How many billions of dollars must be wasted before Congress stops paying for this albatross?  The VA-OIG has substantiated that “… many quality, patient safety, and organizational performance metrics were unavailable, including metrics needed for hospital accreditation.  Additionally, the VA-OIG found that access metrics were largely unavailable.  The VA-OIG remains concerned that deficits in new EHR metrics may negatively affect organizational performance, quality and patient safety, and access to care.”  How’s that integrity doing?  Is it trustworthy?

05 May 2022, failures were discovered in a joint DoD and VHA review of the new electronic health record system.  The new EHR has no plan to create interoperability, yet interoperability was the main selling point for spending billions of dollars on a new EHR.  Would you believe the VA-OIG recommends the DoD and VHA review federal laws and direct the offices overseeing the EHR program to begin complying?  Would Congress please ask, why haven’t the program managers for the HER already been complying with Federal Law?  How about demanding action to recompense the taxpayers who have been defrauded?VA 3

In April 2022, VA-OIG Michael J. Missal addressed Congress in a statement entitled, “At What Cost? – Ensuring Quality Representation in the Veteran Benefit Claims Process.”  The VA-OIG’s mission is “preventing and addressing fraud and other crimes, waste, and abuse in VA programs and operations.”  General Missal then discussed the integrity of VA processes to “help ensure that veterans receive the benefits, health care, and services they have earned through their service to our country.”  Would Congress please ask how the VA-OIG is fulfilling its mission to prevent fraud, waste, and abuse?

The VA-OIG operates a hotline that receives approximately 30,000 complaints annually from veterans, family members, VA employees, and the public.”  If the 30,000 complaints are presumed to be stable, across just the years I have documented the VA’s abuses, then the VA-OIG has received upwards of 360,000 complaints over the last 12 years.  Would Congress please ask about the success in promoting change, reducing fraud, waste, and abuse, and curbing the veterans being actively harmed by the VA, the VHA, and VBA?VA 3

Congress receives these VA-OIG reports first; what is Congress doing to scrutinize the executive branch?  Where is the progress?  The VA-OIG reports annually to Congress, but improvement never occurs.  Permanent change never occurs.  The same people are making the same excuses, using the same flowery language, and nothing ever happens to improve things.  Worse, the same people maintain the same jobs, who pays, the veterans and their families, and the American taxpayer through the nose as the VA loses more and more money!

I do not know about any Congressional elected leader, but I am through buying the Kool-Aid the VA-OIG is selling:

The VA-OIG’s work is focused on protecting VA programs and operations from waste, fraud, and abuse as well as improving their efficiency and effectiveness.”

On a single topic that the VA-OIG has reported on multiple times and remains critically important to all veterans and their families, it is reporting needs for improvement in VHA and VBA suicide prevention.  From the report, we find the following:

“… Suicide prevention coordinators at VA medical facilities are required to reach out to veterans referred from the Veterans Crisis Line.  Coordinators provide access to assessment, intervention, and effective care; encourage veterans to seek care, benefits, or services with the VA system or in the community; and follow up to connect veterans with appropriate care and services after the call.”

The findings from the VA-OIG report are almost criminal in the negligence of leadership to perform the jobs they hold:

The VA-OIG found that coordinators mistakenly closed some veteran referrals because coordinators lacked the proper training, guidance, and oversight necessary to maximize chances of reaching at-risk veterans referred by the crisis line.  VHA lacked comprehensive performance metrics to assess coordinators’ management of crisis line referrals, and coordinators lacked clear guidance on managing crisis line referrals.  Until VHA provides appropriate training, issues adequate guidance, and improves performance metrics, coordinators could miss opportunities to reach and assist at-risk veterans.”VA 3

Why did the media bury this report?  Suicide prevention continues to be a significant military and veteran issue, but this program’s designed incompetence should be a major story on all media networks.  More, this VA-OIG report should be a talking point for every congressional representative seeking re-election.  Why is this not the case?  Integrity requires honesty, honesty and integrity requires action.  When will Congress take action?

How many dead veterans will it take before Congress takes action?  31 May 2022 VA-OIG report:

The VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) conducted an inspection to review the care of an unresponsive patient by Emergency Department staff and the subsequent response of leaders at the Malcom Randall VA Medical Center (facility) after the patient’s death at the University of Florida Health Shands Hospital (Shands).  The OIG determined that facility Emergency Department nurses failed to provide emergency care to an unresponsive patient who arrived by ambulance.  Despite emergency medical services (EMS) personnel having relayed, while en route to the facility, the criticality of the patient’s condition and the limited patient identifying information available, Emergency Department nurses and an Administrative Officer of the Day wasted critical time concentrating efforts on whether the patient was a veteran (which the patient was, but not so identified by the nurses) versus patient care.  As a result, EMS personnel reloaded the patient into the ambulance for transport to Shands.”VA 3

The staff failed to follow EMTALA, and a veteran died due to the inaction and inappropriate focus of the medical providers.  This is not the first or second breach of EMTALA, the federal law requiring any patient presenting at an emergency department receiving federal funds to be treated; yet, what will it take to get Congress off their thumbs?

12 May 2022, deficiencies in care led to a patient dying at the Charlie Norwood VAMC, Augusta, Georgia.  The VA-OIG substantiated that:

medical-surgical unit nursing leaders did not have adequate quality controls or training to ensure the provision of safe and effective alcohol withdrawal nursing care.”  “Primary care staff failed to provide sufficient care coordination and treatment.  A provider failed to address the patient’s abnormal chest images and poor nutrition and failed to communicate test results to the patient as required.  A primary care nurse failed to respond to the patient’s secure message request for assistance two days before surgery.

Additionally, a barium swallow test was not scheduled.  The surgical team completed a preoperative assessment but failed to detect the patient’s overall poor health.  During the patient’s hospital stay after surgery, medical-surgical nurses did not consistently assess alcohol withdrawal symptoms or administer medications as required.”VA 3

My wife is fond of saying, these oversights and failures occur in non-Government hospitals, and this incident should not be considered indicative of the whole system lacking similarly.  Yet, civilian hospitals have lawyers by the dozen looking for a reason to sue providers for malpractice, and the government hospitals protect against accountability and responsibility.  Worse, you will never know the problems unless you track these incidents.

Do you know why I keep declaring there is a problem with designed incompetence; several veterans suffered T-12 burst fractures and multiple rib fractures, all because of poor documentation and even worse communication.  This is a life-changing injury, and the VA-OIG found the VA providers to have culpability but no responsibility due to a lack of documentation.  Delays in provider documenting in the electronic health record the provider’s notes delayed care for another veteran who also suffered life-changing spinal injuries after receiving non-care at a VA facility.  The VA-OIG cannot conclusively document the tie between poor care being received and the injuries sustained by the veteran, all because of delays in the provider documenting treatment.VA 3

Tell me, does anything discussed above reflect the words of Inspector General Michael J. Missal, who claimed the following in Congressional Testimony:

VHA continues to face enormous challenges in providing high-quality care to the millions of veterans it serves.  Despite these challenges, the VA-OIG has witnessed countless examples of veterans receiving the care they need and deserve—delivered by a committed, compassionate, and highly skilled workforce [emphasis mine].”VA 3

Does a provider killing a veteran reflect a committed, compassionate, or highly skilled workforce?  How many veterans must be permanently injured by the VHA providers to reflect a committed, compassionate, and highly skilled workforce?  How often will the electronic health record fail before highly skilled workers are displayed?

Plato 2Unfortunately, the VA-OIG reports discussed are not even the tip of the iceberg of what is happening.  My apologies, dear readers; I have been remiss in my reporting duties.  Why have I been remiss, because my health went sideways since April when I had a medical procedure completed that was advised but not appropriate.  The VHA and VBA are sick organizations and desperately need scrutiny and standards, new leadership, and written organizational policies.  Help me force these nefarious characters into the sunshine for a good dose of sunshine disinfectant, and let’s change the world for the better.

© 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.

The Coffin Where Comedy Goes to Die – More VA Chronicles

I-CareConsider something with me: if you need to proactively reach out to a customer using a phone, would you call that customer’s or his spouse’s phone?  Customer service is all about the customer experience; in an effort to provide customer support, do you call a customer’s or their spouse’s phone?  The answer is obvious, yet the EL Paso VA Outpatient Clinic did the exact opposite of common sense, even though the customer had, within two previous hours, called the EL Paso VA OPC using his phone number on record.

Earlier in the week, a face-to-face patient appointment had to be changed to a VA Video Connect (VVC) appointment, and the provider never showed up.  Later blaming the patient for not showing up to their appointment, even though the patient was online 15 minutes early to the VVC and every 30-minutes logged back into the VVC as the provider never showed.  They are eventually blaming the patient for failing to communicate with the clinic.  Facts essential to know, at 0200 of the morning of the appointment which the provider’s nurse had responded to.  At 0900, the call center changed the in-person appointment to a VVC after contacting the provider for permission to change the appointment to VVC.VA 3

Irony remains critical to comedic gold; the irony of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is the issues discussed above are how veterans are abused daily, and the bureaucrats running the VA do not realize how ironic the designed incompetence has become.  Unfortunately, irony died, and comedy is being sealed into its coffin at the VA.  Veterans are being abused to death, and I can no longer laugh at this ineptitude!

Atlanta VA, as reported by Military.com, 73-year-old Vietnam veteran Phillip Webb is filmed receiving hits and kicks from a VA Employee.  The VA Employee, Lawrence Gaillard Jr., a patient advocate at the VA outpatient clinic in downtown Atlanta, was arrested and charged on April 28 for allegedly assaulting and suspended without pay.  There is nothing to laugh at with this event.  While this event remains under criminal investigation, the abuse at the VA towards veterans from the bureaucrats has not scratched the surface!  Where are the Congressional leaders in demanding change at the VA?VA 3

The Department of Veterans Affairs – Office of Inspector General (VA-OIG) has spent another month reporting on investigations of more malfeasance, misfeasance, and designed incompetence masquerading as bureaucratic inertia.  If your job included the safe handling and storing of medicines, would you be motivated to properly refrigerate the medication, especially if it meant keeping your job?  In January 2019, the VA reported a loss of over $1 million due to improperly stored medication, e.g., refrigerated.  In 2019, the VA was told to improve their safe handling and storing of medicines to prevent additional losses.  2021 more than $1.5 million was lost for the same reason, improperly refrigerated medication.  2022 the VA-OIG has concluded that the VA has done nothing to improve the medication losses.

If we use the annual loss, rounding down to $1 Million, and then presume this has been going on since 2000, we have the potential for a loss of around $20 million.  The Federal Government is always going on about Fraud, Waste, and Abuse, curbing these losses and reporting them.  Will some congressional elected leader please tell me why Congress refuses to act to stop fraud, waste, and abuse?  The full report is nothing but fraud, waste, and abuse, and while the VA-OIG suggests the VA has taken “some steps” to improve the potential of losses, more needs to be done; yet, where is Congress?  Where is the VA Leadership in fixing the problem?

Regarding medication, let’s talk about how prescriptions continue to be delayed and shipped in wrong doses forcing the patient to cut and presume how much meets their needs and prescription level.  Let’s discuss how the providers continue to play games with medications, especially the pain management medications, using the erroneous excuse, “Fighting the opioid crisis.”  I know the political talking points; what I do not know is how these blatant excuses continue to possess traction.VA 3

The Albuquerque VAMC is back in the news due to the continued failure of leadership; why you ask is the Albuquerque VAMC in the VA-OIG reports, they are failing to help in the opioid crisis by delaying the delivery of medication.  From the report, we find the following:

The OIG substantiated that pharmacists declined early refills of buprenorphine despite prescribing providers’ documented clinical rationales, which increased patients’ risk for adverse clinical outcomes associated with interruption of buprenorphine treatment.  The OIG substantiated that justification for declining early refills was incorrectly based on a facility policy that was not applicable to the use of buprenorphine for the treatment of opioid use disorder [emphasis mine].”

Did you get the why?  Leadership at the VAMC is beyond subpar, has been failing the veterans of Albuquerque, and is protected by the ridiculously inept leaders at VISN 22, as documented multiple times over the last five years.  Yet, still, nothing is done to remove the leaders, stop the abuse, and fix the problems; thus, I ask again, why?  Where are the elected leaders in scrutinizing the executive branch?  Even the VA-OIG has reported, “actions taken by leaders did not fully address the reported concerns.”  If this is not a perfect definition of designing incompetence, I’ll eat my hat!VA 3

The VA-OIG’s recommendations reflect the inadequacy of the VA-OIG to demand change and then enforce corrective action effectively.  More designed incompetence and the crosshairs are clearly on the executive and legislative branches to act.  This means that you, the voter, have the power to demand change!

Dare you think the Albuquerque VAMC is the only VA having problems?  The VA-OIG reports the VAMC in Hampton, Virginia is also back in the news.  Consider the patient and the family in the following, “… multiple providers’ failure[d] to communicate, act on, and document abnormal test results from July 2019 until April 2021, when the patient was diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer.”  More failure of VA leaders to act, and “… facility leaders did not initiate peer reviews within three days, and facility staff did not submit patient safety reports as required.”  Where is the outrage that another veteran is needlessly suffering, the family is needlessly struggling, and the VA Leaders keep their jobs?VA 3

We began this chronicle with a Vietnam Veteran being beaten and kicked by a VA employee who was employed to defend patients, where leaders did not act upon the incident for two months, leading to questions and concerns about the potential cover-up, hushing of witnesses, or manipulation of evidence to hide, what for all intents and purposes appears to be, employee criminal activity.  While the attacker retains their constitutional right to innocence until proven guilty, significant questions need immediate redress, and the VAMC leadership needs to answer these questions.

Continuing on the failure of leadership, the Tuscaloosa VAMC in Alabama shows more leadership failure to address patients’ safety and security in long-term care.  The VA-OIG identified that the administration could not fill critical staff positions, possibly due to the toxic nature of the leadership.  One of the more critical failures of leadership deals with the elopement of patients from the care facility, and the leaders appear to remain inadequate to improve the facility and patient safety.  Why are these leaders still in positions of power in this facility?VA 3

As an organizational psychologist, the continued failure of leadership represents a real and present danger.  The VA-OIG appears to be aiding and abetting the absence of leadership at the VA.  If you think I am exaggerating, consider the continued failure to comply with the payment integrity information act (PIIA).  The VA was failing to comply before PIIA, and the following from the VA-OIG report is telling:

In FY 2021, VA reported improper and unknown payment estimates totaling $5.12 billion for seven programs and activities.  Of that amount, about $1.97 billion (around 39 percent) represented a monetary loss.  The remaining approximately $3.14 billion (about 61 percent) was considered either a nonmonetary loss or unknown payment that cannot be recovered.  Though VA had an overall decrease in total improper payments and unknown payments, the overall monetary loss more than doubled from $892 million in FY 2020 to $1.97 billion [emphasis mine].”

PIIA was legislated and put into effect in March 2020, FY 2021 is the first year, and the investigative reports represent the VA’s inaugural failure to comply.  All facts are desperately pertinent in this report and necessary to understand just how ridiculously inept the VA leadership continues to act.  10% of $5.12 Billion is $512 Million; the VA leadership from the VA-OIG is “encouraged” to become compliant and lose less than $512 Million in FY 2022.  Tell me how “encouraging” your leadership will be losing that much money?

From the VA-OIG Report,  “VA satisfied nine of the 10 requirements; however, it is not considered to be compliant because it failed to report an improper and unknown payment rate of less than 10 percent.”  PIIA was legislated to reduce improper payments to less than 10%; tell me, if you improperly paid someone $512 Million, would you keep your job?  Never forget, every Federal Government facility must have posted a poster discussing how to Report Fraud, Waste, and Abuse; what do you call losing $512 Million?  Would someone please explain why losing less than $512 Million is an improvement?  How is losing less than 10% acceptable and not Fraud, Waste, and Abuse or credible accounting?VA 3

Finally, we conclude with additional reports of criminal enterprises by VA employees, as if anyone is surprised:

  • Bethann Kierczak of Southgate, Michigan, a registered nurse at the John D. Dingell VA Medical Center in Detroit, pleaded guilty to charges related to COVID-19 vaccination record cards fraud. According to court records, Kierczak admitted to stealing or embezzling authentic COVID-19 vaccination record cards from the VA hospital—along with vaccine lot numbers necessary to make the cards appear legitimate—and then reselling those cards and information to individuals within the metro Detroit community.  Kierczak began the scheme as early as May 2021 and continued through September 2021, selling the cards for $150 to $200 each.  The VA OIG investigated this case with the VA Police and the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, a partnership among the Criminal Division, US Attorney’s Offices, and the US Health and Human Services OIG.”
  • Melissa Flores was sentenced to two years in prison and $110,000 in restitution for her role in a scheme to defraud VA. Flores and a codefendant allegedly created aliases and obtained or created fraudulent documents to make it appear they were the heirs of various individuals who had died.  Between 2013 and 2019, the two codefendants defrauded VA out of more than $430,000 and the Michigan Department of Treasury out of more than $40,000 in unclaimed property.  Flores pleaded guilty to two counts of false pretenses last May and one count of forgery.”
  • Bruce Minor of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty in connection with his scheme to embezzle money from his former employer, the Philadelphia VA Medical Center. In April 2022, Minor was charged with theft of government funds stemming from his theft of more than $487,000 in VA travel reimbursement funds, which he helped administer as part of his official duties as a travel clerk.  To perpetuate the theft, Minor created fraudulent travel reimbursement claims in the names of at least three other VA employees and then diverted the fraudulently obtained funds into bank accounts he controlled.  According to court documents, in an email to medical center management, Minor admitted to stealing approximately $13,000 in travel funds.  However, a subsequent investigation showed that he stole upwards of $487,000 between December 2015 and September 2019.  The VA OIG conducted this investigation.”

PatriotismWhat connects all three of these criminals; the failures of VA leadership to scrutinize their employees.  Does this remind you of additional leaders, maybe those in Congress who continue to refuse to scrutinize the executive branch?  The US Constitution established three co-equal branches, the judicial protects the Constitution, the Executive operates the government, and the Legislative has two jobs write laws for the executive branch to operate and scrutinize the executive branch as it operates.  Each branch answers to the other, and all branches must operate inside the US Constitution.  America needs the legislative branch to begin doing its job, and we, the voters, are the only way to begin demanding the change we need!?u=https1.bp.blogspot.com-aqaqk18MHoEWRHHsCi_TyIAAAAAAAAAXc7hY4JQuyylIQHYudoR8sbezGZntic4SSwCLcBs640Betrayal2BSayings2Band2BQuotes2Bwww.mostphrases.blogspot.be.jpg&f=1&nofb=1

If comedy is dead, and it is, the VA is the coffin where comedy went to die.  Let’s stop laughing and start acting!  Join me?

© 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.

“That’s Crazy!!!” – More Chronicles from the VA Chapter 8

I-CareI fully admit I got behind in April.  Dear reader, my apology.  I have been whipsawed between emergency room visits, depression, extreme pain, and other issues.  Not offering an excuse but a tiny peek into my world as a disabled veteran.  Luckily, I have maintained employment because my employer allows me to work from home.  My driving privileges are threatened again with removal due to the neurological issues I suffer, and this will dynamically change my life, but this article is not about me, but the continued catastrophe called the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Inspector General (VA-OIG) reports published.

We begin with a financial efficiency review reported from the inspection of the Durham VAHCS of North Carolina.  I know the jokes write themselves when we discuss any government agency and financial efficiency, but I digress.  This is a head exploding report of leadership failure in the observation and governance of employees who did not perform the functions they were hired to perform.  The VA-OIG found the following from October 1, 2020, through March 31, 2021:

    • The healthcare system had 309 inactive obligations totaling $81.7 million.
    • Of these 309 obligations, 200 (totaling over $74 million) had no activity for 181 days or more.
    • In a subsample of 20 obligations, VA staff had not reviewed 17, as required.
    • Contrary to VA policy, healthcare system staff used purchase cards instead of contracts for 21 of 40 sampled transactions (53 percent), totaling approximately $328,000. These 21 transactions were missing required supporting documentation to verify that the transactions were approved and payments were accurate, resulting in $308,000 in questioned costs.
    • 105 more administrative full-time equivalent staff than the expected number, all not doing their jobs as required under Federal Law!

While not all of the findings, those mentioned are the most egregious and in need of corrective action.  Would the citizens of Durham, North Carolina, please tell me, has this been reported in the local news?  Has anyone lost their jobs as the VAHCS right-sizes the financial department?  I can find no additional information that this problem has been corrected, and I am really curious!VA 3

Oh, the irony is thick; consider the following:

The Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General Training Act of 2021 would help ensure that VA employees continue to be empowered to assist the OIG in improving VA’s operations and using taxpayer dollars to the greatest effect; helping protect patients and improving their care; and ensuring veterans and others receive services and benefits for which they are eligible.”

The above-quoted material originates from Chris Wilber, who testified to Congress’s HVAC Subcommittee on oversight and investigations.  What is the number one failure on every comprehensive healthcare inspection (CHIP); the lack of staff training, the inadequacy of staff training, or adequately trained staff.  Yet, the statement by the VA-OIG indicates that training has met a threshold for providing adequate training.  Let’s talk about a specific action, “the VA secretary signed a directive in September 2021 mandating that all employees complete a one-time training within one year—an important step in improving VA’s culture of accountability.”  It is now May 2022; the VA-OIG is pushing for training directives to be legislated, not dependent upon any single VA Secretary.  Are you freaking kidding me?  Where is the congressional oversight and scrutiny that allows VA training to continue to be subpar and threaten the lives of veterans?

Long have I wondered how the VA could frustrate VA-OIG actions, investigations, inspections, etc.  Guess what; the answer has become available:

“… there have been instances in which the OIG has been informed that staff have been told that they cannot share information with OIG investigators without first clearing it through supervisors or leaders—contrary to the Inspector General Act of 1978 (the IG Act), as amended.  Under that authority, VA employees at all levels have a duty to cooperate with OIG personnel, including providing information and assistance in a timely manner.”

Employees have been caught lying to the VA-OIG regularly, and what action is taken to remove those employees promptly and efficiently from government service?  From direct observation and employee conversations, it is clear that plans are carefully laid before a scheduled VA-OIG visit to present what the VA-OIG wants, but to gloss over the problems, and nothing ever happened to the managers, supervisors, and employees who lied and misdirected the VA-OIG.  All contrary to established Federal Law!VA 3

Want a specific example of employees intentionally misrepresenting information to the VA-OIG?  Look no further than the statement by Chris Wilber, and this incident was covered as a failure of leadership in a previous article.

Hospital staff at a VA facility in Fayetteville, Arkansas, had concerns about potential substance abuse by the chief of pathology that were not heard and promptly acted on by local management, which allowed him to work while impaired for years.  He misdiagnosed about 3,000 patients with errors resulting in death or serious harm and is currently imprisoned.  The OIG found a culture in which staff did not report serious concerns about the chief pathologist, in part because they assumed that others had reported him, or they were concerned about reprisal.”

From personal experience, I reported problems to the VA-OIG concerning patient abuse, fraud, waste, and other issues.  Never were my concerns acted upon promptly, and I was removed from employment for being a whistleblower.  The culture of corruption at the VA is incredible.  The examples mentioned by the VA-OIG only further sustain the problem with leadership and how sick the VA truly is as an organization!VA 3

We next turn our attention to the VA-OIG report on the inspection of information technology security at the VA Financial Services Center, another head exploding example of leadership failure bordering on criminal!  The findings include:

    • component inventory
    • vulnerability management
    • flaw remediation
    • Identifying 252 vulnerabilities, of which 228 the local IT team could not identify.
    • the VA-OIG team identified access control deficiencies, as 107 of the 278 FSC systems failed to generate or forward audit logs for analysis.
    • the video surveillance system was not fully functional. Ineffective monitoring and recording facility activities supporting information systems minimize the FSC’s incident response capabilities.

How do you spell failure; these findings spell failure to me rather pointedly and dramatically!  Want to laugh; staff training remains a concern, but not a finding, of the VA-OIG inspection team.  Frankly, with this level of incompetence, staff training should have been a finding.VA 3

To be concise and illustrate further the poor leadership, convoluted processes, and brazen noncompliance of VA officials, the following discussion is about two different VA-OIG reports that reached similar conclusions.  First, we have the VA-OIG report on “Noncompliant and Deficient Processes and Oversight of State Licensing Board and National Practitioner Data Bank Reporting Policies by VA Medical Facilities.”  Second is the VA-OIG report on “Concerns with Consistency and Transparency in the Calculation and Disclosure of Patient Wait Time Data.”  Nothing says convoluted processes more than having two written policies, both originating from Washington DC.  The superseded policy does not have an expiration date.  This means that employees have a designed incompetence excuse ready for not adhering to the most current and applicable policy.  Don’t believe me; one of the key findings was, “VHA has presented wait times to the public without clearly and consistently disclosing the basis for their calculations.”  Designed incompetence does not come more blatant than this, and who suffers, the veteran.  Worse, wait time correction and policy clarification has been stalled by COVID-19, the neverending excuse paying dividends to bureaucrats everywhere!Timelines for Wait Time Calculations

However, both reports are substantially summated by the VA-OIG; thus, “The lack of programmatic oversight contributed to the failure of VHA leaders to detect and intervene upon facility noncompliance.”  Meaning that due to COVID-19, the VHA has refused to do their jobs in deference to the pandemic, and since this is a good enough excuse, the VA-OIG has bought the designed incompetence, lock, stock, and barrel.  The VHA leadership is failing; doctors or dentists let go for poor performance were not reported to state and federal boards, so these providers lacking can continue to harm patients.  It is a federal law (42 US Code § 11151, US Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration Bureau of Health Workforce, NPDB Guidebook, October 2018, chap. A., 8 USC ⸹ 7462(a), 38 USC ⸹ 7401(1), among others) that providers let go for cause must be reported within 7-days to the regulatory boards at the state and federal levels.  Wait times are hidden because they are so bad; the VHA is embarrassed, so the leaders fall back on designed incompetence to shield themselves while looking for another excuse for poor performance!  In both reports, the ramifications of noncompliance are putting people at risk for sentinel events (death, injury, disability, etc.), and the leadership is at best lackadaisical in the performance of their duties.  VA 3

Where are the congressional overseers in ending the abuse?  When will this insanity and bureaucratic inertia end?  How many “sentinel events,” including deaths and permanent injuries, will it take until those tasked with scrutinizing the executive branch finally take committed action and hold people accountable?  When will the elected representatives stop throwing good taxpayer money at problems that money cannot fix?  If these questions are too difficult to answer, please stop running for elected office, for the citizenry is not happy!

We conclude with two related reports so astoundingly obtuse they defy logic and sanity.  The first is the annual CliftonLarsonAllen LLP (CLA) audit of the VA’s information security for 2021.  The second is the continuing failure of the new electronic health record modernization (EHRM) program.  The VA has failed the CLA audit for more than a decade, with many of the hits repeated year-over-year.  In fact, the CLA audit is so bad this year; it has taken my mental breath away and stunned me into a gibbering idiot!  Reading this report was infuriating; describing it as my head exploding is akin to comparing an M-80 to a nuclear bomb.  How in Dante’s Inferno can this level of incompetence be allowed to remain employed?  But, as bad as the CLA audit is, the continued failure of the new electronic health record system pales in comparison.  The new EHRM continues to suffer from reliability weaknesses, which is polite speak from the VA-OIG for the new system fails to do the job.  We are three years from the new extended deadline, we are already past the original deadline, and the system is worthless today than it was a year ago.  With this success rate, the new EHRM will be utterly bereft of value and need replacement before the year’s end.  How many millions (billions, or trillions) of good dollars must chase this ineptitude before the plug is pulled and those involved held accountable?VA 3

Join me in having your head explode:

Additional deficiencies included known tasks not being reflected on schedules, no risk analysis, lack of longer-term actions scheduled, and no complete baseline schedule or overall schedule that fully integrated individual project schedules. VA also did not comply with federal regulations when it paid its contractor for deliverables before accepting them (reviewing compliance with contract requirements).”

Consider this other gem from the VA-OIG report, “$1.95 billion in cost overruns per year” are estimated, meaning the final tab will be significantly higher and compounded year-over-year.  In plain speak, the contractor is being paid for products delivered that fail, the products offered are not usable, there is no schedule of completion, there is no schedule for deliverables, many of the products paid for have never been delivered, and costs are overrunning like a plugged toilet. Worse, no one is being held personally liable for these problems, which were apparent in the last EHRM update from the VA-OIG a year ago!  Like the CLA Audit, I am thrilled the VA agrees with the VA-OIG findings, but what are they DOING to fix the problems?

FYI: the image below is a year old, and comes from the last major update to the EHRM.EHR-VA-OIG

?u=https1.bp.blogspot.com-aqaqk18MHoEWRHHsCi_TyIAAAAAAAAAXc7hY4JQuyylIQHYudoR8sbezGZntic4SSwCLcBs640Betrayal2BSayings2Band2BQuotes2Bwww.mostphrases.blogspot.be.jpg&f=1&nofb=1There is no excuse for behaving like the VA’s bureaucratic legions behave.  Bureaucrats, from the city government (including the school board) to the Federal Government, you hold a sacred trust to act better than you are currently performing.  I refuse you any leeway for acting like pompous overlords when you are paid through forced taxation!  You have trespassed upon my patience and kindness long enough, and the day of reckoning has arrived.  You work for me; you work for every taxpayer and citizen in this country, and you have violated our trust, charged us too much and too often, and if you do not begin to show yourself worthy of the sacred trust, we will force you from your cushy jobs and hold you liable for the monies you have squandered!  The law is on our side; you need to begin showing you honor our trust and investment forthwith!

© 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.

“That’s Crazy!!!” – More Chronicles from the VA Chapter 7

Oh, how I wish and long for, and am working for, the day when the VA is cleaned up, cleaned out, and corrected completely!  The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) – Office of Inspector General (VA-OIG) has been busy reporting more on the failures of the VA to act.  Yet, where is Congressional action in scrutinizing the executive branch’s actions?  Honest question, repeated only for emphasis; we elected you to do two jobs, write fair and equal legislation for all citizens, and scrutinize the executive branch; when are you going to do your jobs?

Let’s begin with some softball issues repeated from previous VA-OIG comprehensive healthcare inspections (CHIPs), specifically how employees report feeling morally distressed while working at the VA.  Moral distress is a leadership failure and is widespread enough to reflect the problem is not limited to a single VAMC/VAHCS.  From Virginia to California, Maine to Florida, and Montana to Arizona, too many VA facilities are poorly led, poorly administered, and poorly executed.  The VA is actively abusing the veterans for political gain; some have asked why I consider the VA is actively abusing veterans; let me see if additional disclosure can explain the problem.

VHA Directive 1004.08.  VHA defines an institutional disclosure as “a formal process by which VA medical facility leader(s), together with clinicians and others as appropriate, inform the patient or personal representative that an adverse event has occurred during the patient’s care that resulted in, or is reasonably expected to result in, death or serious injury, and provide specific information about the patient’s rights and recourse.”

The above quote is from the regulations governing VA care.  The VA-OIG quotes this directive, which has been published and is openly available, yet repeatedly the VA-OIG finds directors.  Hospital administrators who are informed and able to repeat this directive.  Who repeatedly refuse to follow this directive or train their staff to follow this directive.  When sentinel events occur (death, permanent injury, non-permanent injury, disability, etc.), the families report having no idea what to do because the disclosures were never provided to the veteran or designated caregiver.  Is this not abuse of the patient?  Is this abuse not driven by ideologues who gain from the harm they cause others?  Should this abuse not be scrutinized until it is eliminated?  Please feel free to read some of these comprehensive healthcare inspection reports from the VA-OIG, see the resulting injuries and problems caused by the failures of government medical providers, and then tell me whether these atrocious actions need more or less scrutiny and qualify for the title abuse.

North Carolinian veterans, VISN 6 is all yours, and would you be shocked to learn that even with newer leadership, moral distress remains a persistent problem in the VA employees throughout VISN 6, which just happens to include Durham, Asheville, Fayetteville, Hampton, Richmond, Salem, and Salisbury North Carolina?  Probably this is not unfamiliar as the patient experience survey scores remain persistently below VA averages, reflecting that new leadership is akin to putting lipstick on a pig.  Interestingly, medical staff credentialing remains a significant concern in North Carolina.

Western New York veterans, especially those receiving patient services in the Buffalo VAHCS, do you agree with the VA-OIG report?  The Buffalo VAHCS includes Buffalo, Batavia, Jamestown, Dunkirk, Niagra Falls, Lockport, West Seneca, and Olean, and the comprehensive report is mystifying to me.  For example, the VA-OIG reports that “Patients generally appeared satisfied with their care.”   At the same time, “Employee survey data revealed opportunities for leaders to improve workplace satisfaction and reduce feelings of moral distress.”  This is a combination not generally found in these CHIP inspection reports.  Something is definitely off, and I would love to know what, especially since the leadership needs significant improvement in identifying and reporting sentinel events.  Do you agree with the VA-OIG findings?  Please let me know your firsthand experiences, for the double-talk in this CHIP report is above what I usually observe.

With almost identical findings and recommendations in the Syracuse NY VAMC’s comprehensive healthcare inspection, covering communities of Syracuse, Auburn, Freeville, Potsdam, Rome, Binghampton, Watertown, and Oswego, NY., I am concerned that the veterans in New York are in as bad or worse shape than Phoenix’s veteran community.  Hence, I have to ask the VA-OIG, has something changed in your measurement and analysis tools to report such disparate findings as “Employee survey data revealed opportunities for leaders to improve servant leadership and decrease employees’ feelings of moral distress.  Patients generally appeared satisfied with the care provided?”  The double-talk level is higher in these CHIPs from NY, which is rarely observed outside of Phoenix and VISN 22.  Two final thoughts on the CHIPs, staff training, continues to be a high-risk finding, and this continues to be a leadership failure for every VAMC/VAHCS/VISN in the VA; why has progress not occurred?  Training is a system, and leadership and organizational risk, system redesign, and improvement is a quality, safety, and value problem of the highest importance; why is action never taken by leadership or the congressional representatives who are expected to scrutinize the executive branch?

28 March 2022, the VA-OIG released their long-awaited annual “Comprehensive Healthcare Inspection Summary Report: Evaluation of Medical Staff Privileging in Veterans Health Administration Facilities, Fiscal Year 2020.”  I have been interested to see what, if anything, the VA had accomplished in improving their medical staff privileging.  If I were a congressional representative, knowing that medical staff continues to harm and kill veterans, I would have been anxiously awaiting to see if the repeated hits from past years had finally been rectified.  Unfortunately, the VA continues to live down to expectations (digging the hole ever deeper), suffers from failed leadership, and the veterans continue to die or suffer abuse.

What did the VA-OIG discover?  Understand, “The OIG conducted detailed inspections at 36 VHA medical facilities to ensure leaders implemented medical staff privileging processes in compliance with requirements.  The OIG subsequently issued six recommendations for improvement to the Under Secretary for Health, in conjunction with Veterans Integrated Service Network directors and facility senior leaders.  The intent is for VHA leaders to use these recommendations to help guide improvements in operations and clinical care at the facility level.  The recommendations address findings that may eventually interfere with the delivery of quality health care.”  The OIG identified deficiencies with focused and ongoing professional practice evaluation, provider exit review, and state licensing board reporting processes.  Specifically:

    • use of minimum criteria for selected specialty licensed independent practitioners’ focused professional practice evaluations
    • inclusion of service-specific criteria in ongoing professional practice evaluations
    • completion of ongoing professional practice evaluations by other providers with similar training and privileges
    • recommendation by executive committees to continue licensed independent practitioners’ privileges based on professional practice evaluation results
    • completion of provider exit review forms within seven business days of licensed independent practitioners’ departure from a medical facility
    • the signing of exit review forms by service chiefs, chiefs of staff, and medical facility directors if licensed healthcare professionals failed to meet generally accepted standards of care
    • initiation of state licensing board reporting within seven business days of supervisors’ signatures on exit review forms to indicate licensed healthcare professionals failed to meet generally accepted standards of care.

The OIG found ongoing issues from the fiscal year 2019 CHIP summary report that warranted repeat recommendations for improvement.  The OIG issued three repeat recommendations related to the following:

    • inclusion of minimum specialty criteria for focused professional practice
      evaluations
    • inclusion of service-specific criteria in ongoing professional practice evaluations
    • recommendation by executive committees of the medical staff in continuing licensed independent practitioners’ privileges based on professional practice evaluation results.

Boiling the findings of the VA-OIG down, essentially, the administrators and leadership are not weeding out poor and horrible practitioners, reporting these underperforming practitioners, and not acting in the best interests of the veterans seeking care at VAMCs and VAHCSs across the country.  I repeat, only for emphasis: Is this not abuse of the patient?  Is this abuse not driven by ideologues who gain from the harm they cause others?  Should this abuse not be scrutinized until it is eliminated?  Please feel free to read some of these comprehensive healthcare inspection reports from the VA-OIG, see the resulting injuries and problems caused by the failures of government medical providers, and then tell me whether these atrocious actions need more or less scrutiny and qualify for the title abuse.  The link to the full report is available; please feel free to make your conclusions and post your thoughts in the comments section.

On a final note for today, consider with me the problems of the Atlanta VAHCS with pallets of unopened mail containing patient health information, community care provider claims needing payment, and a plethora of other unopened mail.  Understand that when community care providers cannot obtain compensation from the VA, they go to the veterans, who then send in correspondence, which is unopened, thus causing more problems, concerns, and issues for an already abused veteran community!  Want your head to explode?  Look at the pictures the VA-OIG helpfully sent along with this VA-OIG report, and ask yourself if any other business or organization could get away with this type of abuse of the customer.

What did the VA-OIG find?  Well, prepare for your head to explode, again:

    • VA Leadership should have established a formal agreement explicitly detailing each office’s responsibilities.
    • VA HCS leaders did not include responsible managers in decision-making discussions and lacked a clear understanding of the volume of mail processing work they were accepting.
    • Atlanta VA HCS did not ensure mailroom staff was adequately prepared or trained to handle or sort the influx of mail. POM (Payment Operations Management) officials were later reluctant to help, citing the verbal agreement.

Buried in the report is this tidbit, “POM is implementing similar transitions at sites across the country; POM and medical facilities need to ensure adequate staff with sufficient training to handle the mail processing workload.  VA concurred with the OIG’s five recommendations.”  Meaning that in a VAMC/VAHCS near you, unopened mail due to verbal agreements will soon add more distress and disgust to the veteran experience.

I have documented in these articles how verbal agreements, verbal standards of work performance, and verbal processes and procedures are the problem and way of life in too many CHIPs and observed practices at the VA.  Yet, these verbal shenanigans are more apparent than in the dilemma Atlanta faces due to unopened mail.  Payment operations to community care providers are on a controlled and fixed timeline.  Failure to process these payments according to the required timeline leaves providers unpaid, which diminishes the community care provider pool of providers.  Talk to a community care provider, and they will discuss the risks of doing business with the VA and the real possibility of not being paid timely enough or being caught in sufficient red tape never to receive payment.

I know of a provider who called me three years after receiving care and was still trying to appeal and correct the paperwork to receive payment.  A provider recently contacted me who wanted to ruin my credit for failing to pay the balance due from care received, and they are charging interest.  Correcting this problem cost me 48 business hours, 20 calls, and frustrations galore.  By the way, the problem still has not been rectified, an appeal is in process, and we have to wait for the VA to make a decision; this incident was caused by the VA changing the process and the paperwork.  The provider told me they are not accepting any more veterans seeking care, the risk is too significant, the timeline to receive payment is too long, and the VA never pays what is charged.  For example, I recently received a declaration declaring payment to a community care provider.  The VA sent me to this provider, which means they knew the prices beforehand and agreed to the fees.  The declaration declared the VA was charged $2,000 and paid $120, not actual amounts, but close enough to communicate the problem.  With inflation, or without inflation, if you were paid less than 1/10th of what you billed (invoiced), would you continue to conduct business with that company or organization?  Now add the unopened mail problem to the mix.  Would you continue to conduct business with this entity?

America, the Department of Veterans Affairs is sick.  All of the other alphabet agencies in the Federal Government are sick.  We continue to elect people who actively refuse to care enough to act according to their mandated duties.  We cannot afford the government we currently have, which is part and parcel of the problem with inflation in America right now!  Debt is entered into to pay for this bloated feckbeast called government; from the city to the federal government, the bloat is too great to be sustained!  Why is the VA able to skirt responsibility, accountability, and improvement?  They can hide behind the size of their convoluted and twisted organizational shield.  Why can the Post Office and the IRS get away with deplorable, at best, customer service?  They are protected by the congress refusing to scrutinize and hold people accountable.  When your head is done exploding, please remember and act in the ballot box to hire better representatives!

© 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.

“That’s Crazy!!!” – More Chronicles from the VA Chapter 6

I-CareI promised a follow-up article after Chapter 5; it took me the better part of 48 hours to cool down sufficiently to write coherently to effect an update.  On 18 March 2002, I wrote about an appointment with my Primary Care Provider (PCP) being tardy, unprepared, and bureaucratese in supposedly holding a phone appointment with me.  01 April 2022, not an “April Fools Joke,” at 0731 hours, lasting 9 minutes, my PCP called me to get my approval to have me changed from her PACT team to another provider’s team.  Apparently, in the highly red taped world of PCPs at the El Paso VAHCS, there must be an hour-long handoff call when a provider initiates a change of PACT team.  I have my doubts and smell designed incompetence!

Let me pause here for a moment.  I generally need two hours to write an article after conducting research.  18 March 2002, it took a bit longer to draft that one due to the need to blow off steam with some choice words and choke down the urge to beat a few brick walls with my fists.  I am generally a very controlled person, and the fact that this PCP was so stunningly incompetent, rude, and HIPAA clueless, I admit I lost my cherub-like demeanor!  That the patient advocate was able to get my secure message, upload the comments into the electronic medical record, and contact the provider before the provider had even logged the patient notes, speaks volumes about the ineptitude of the PCP.  Worse, in the call on 01 April, the PCP was still on speakerphone, still disregarding HIPAA security, and quoted lines out of context from my message to the patient advocate.  Speaking volumes about the processes and procedures of the patient advocate’s office to investigate patient claims without breaching confidentiality.  Another topic for another day entirely!PACT_model

28 March 2022, I received the following from the patient advocates office, quoted completely:

We have received your secure message addressing your concerns.  I will be sending a Patient Advocate Tracking notification with your concerns to our Primacy Care Service for review.  They will be contacting you via telephone to discuss your concerns.”

I never heard anything from this mysterious “Primary Care Service” group/team.  01 April 2022 was the first response, and that was from the PCP.  Sourcing the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Office of Inspector General (VA-OIG), the PCP is the second most important member of the Patient-Aligned Care Teams (PACT) at the VA; the patient is the essential member and an actively engaged and knowledgeable patient is preferred.  I promise the VA-OIG has not even scratched the surface of the problems with recalcitrant, snowflake, and bureaucratic PCPs endangering patient health with the VA.  Not my first run-in with an inept PCP; I sincerely hope it is my last!PACT 3

In returning to the 01 April call, we find another interesting piece of data.  The PCP affirmed that abdominal pain could radiate from, say a hernia, to other parts of the abdomen, but this is for a specialist to diagnose, not a Family Practitioner.  Get that; the PCP is directly reversing all the published documentation by the VA and the VA-OIG by declaring that a specialist is the only person who can adequately decipher and detail why pain is occurring—putting all the PCPs in the VA Health Administration under the bus as merely button pushers and drug dealers.  Then the PCP has the temerity, nay the chutzpah, to suggest a trust deficiency existing between myself and the PCP.  Is it any wonder that people are detested, forlorn, melancholy, madder than a wet chicken with a raging case of hemorrhoids with the care they receive from VA healthcare providers?

Again, I repeat, only for emphasis, when any updates arrive on this issue, I will publish them in their entirety to allow the VA the opportunity to rebut, refute, or explain.  Like the ongoing saga with VISN 22, the Phoenix VAMC, and being arrested and injured three times by the VA Police, I am not holding my breath and awaiting a logical response.  If this were the only problem in the two weeks since the PCP shenanigans, the VA would be in pretty good shape.  Alas, we know, dear readers, that the VA is in dire condition, and the elected leaders need to be scrutinizing the VA a LOT more closely than they are.VA 3

We begin the latest chapter of VA-OIG reports with yet another physician bilking the government:

Robert Clay Smith, a Louisiana physician, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud, wire fraud, and illegal remunerations (taking kickbacks).  According to court documents, the scheme, which ran from 2013 until 2017, involved individuals associated with a medical supply and billing company recruiting Smith to dispense pain creams and patches to his workers’ compensation patients by offering him a split of the profits.  The company acted as the billing agent for Smith, handling all the paperwork and submitting the allegedly fraudulent claims to the US Department of Labor, Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs, and private insurers.  In exchange, the company paid Smith 50 to 55 percent of the profits collected from successfully billing insurers, at markups of 15 to 20 times what the medications cost.”

Plus the following:

Robert Schneiderman of Langhorne, Pennsylvania, admitted to participating in a massive compounded-medication kickback scheme that he and others ran out of a pharmacy in Clifton, New Jersey.  Schneiderman pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud and one count of conspiracy to violate the Anti-Kickback Statute.  From 2014 through 2016, Schneiderman and his coconspirators used Main Avenue Pharmacy, a mail-order pharmacy with a storefront in New Jersey, to run a fraud and kickback scheme involving compounded drugs like scar creams, pain creams, migraine mediation, and vitamins.  Schneiderman was the president of Main Avenue Pharmacy and was a founder and CEO of its corporate parent.  Main Avenue Pharmacy received over $34 million in reimbursements from healthcare benefit programs on compounded medications alone.  Approximately $8 million of that total was paid by federal payers.  Schneiderman himself earned over $400,000 through the course of the scheme.  This case was investigated by the VA OIG, FBI, Department of Defense OIG, Defense Criminal Investigative Service, and Department of Health and Human Services OIG.”

Don’t forget this one:

Dr. Harry Doyle, a psychiatrist from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and his wife, Sonya Doyle, have agreed to pay $3 million to resolve alleged violations of the False Claims Act.  The alleged violations include submitting false billing to the US Department of Labor Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP) for psychiatric services that were not provided and upcoding and double-billing patient claims.  The Doyles have also agreed to be voluntarily excluded from federal healthcare programs for 25 years as part of the settlement.  This is the largest recovery against a single psychiatrist in the history of the OWCP.  A multiagency investigation of Dr. Doyle’s practice revealed that from January 2013 through April 2021, the Doyles allegedly billed for services not rendered, some of which occurred when they were not physically present in the United States.  This case was investigated by the VA OIG, the Department of Labor OIG, and the United States Postal Service OIG.”

More is coming on this one:

Ten Texas doctors and a healthcare executive have agreed to pay more than $1.68 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.  The MSO payments to the doctors were disguised as investment returns but were based on and offered in exchange for the doctors’ referrals.  As part of their settlements, the defendants have agreed to cooperate with the Department of Justice’s investigations of other parties involved in the alleged law violations.  To date, 17 doctors and two healthcare executives involved in this scheme have agreed on settlements totaling more than $2.7 million.  The civil settlements resulted from a coordinated effort between the VA OIG, Department of Health and Human Services OIG, Defense Criminal Investigative Service, and the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Texas [emphasis mine].”

Elected officials, the next time you are asked about the incredible amounts of fraud in government-provided healthcare and insurance, do not buy the media talking points that the fraud is minimal, contained, or anything but designed incompetence on the part of the bureaucrats to act as a jobs program for investigators!  The same investigators who are refused sufficient tools to investigate shenanigans by employees in the Federal Government adequately.?u=http2.bp.blogspot.com-fGEUjJsJ2h4VcJgswaisnIAAAAAAAABcsoFqEewPF_E4s1600quote-if-the-freedom-of-speech-is-taken-away-then-dumb-and-silent-we-may-be-led-like-sheep-to-the-george-washington-193690.jpg&f=1&nofb=1

Frankly, all of these cases need the government workers to be held accountable, and the myriad of red tape loopholes CLOSED!  I remember an election; I forget who and the exact when, but a significant election plank in the platform was healthcare reform, promising to clean up the swamp and bring accountability to Washington and the government.  The public is still waiting, and I know enough of you have run on this topic from both parties to repaper the walls (inside and outside) of the White House.

Yet, even if only outside providers and executives were scheming, the VA might not be in too bad a condition.  Except for the employees of the VA, VHA, and VBA, which continue to be caught up in ethics violations at a minimum:

The VA-OIG conducted an administrative investigation that included a congressional request to look into allegations that Charmain Bogue, former executive director of the Veterans Benefits Administration’s Education Service, committed ethical violations arising from her spouse’s consulting work for Veterans Education Success (VES).  VES is a nonprofit advocacy group that regularly had business before the Education Service.  The allegations also pointed to possible incomplete financial disclosures by Ms. Bogue concerning her spouse’s consulting business.  In their work, investigators uncovered evidence of other potential conflicts of interest and related misconduct by Ms. Bogue [emphasis mine].”

VA-OIG finding:

    1. Bogue participated in Education Service matters involving VES without considering whether it raised an apparent conflict of interest and acted contrary to the ethics guidance she received from her supervisors.
    2. Bogue sought résumé feedback from the president of VES to aid in her search for career advancement without considering whether this raised apparent conflict of interest concerns in subsequent VES matters. VES also endorsed Ms. Bogue for presidential nominee positions.
    3. Bogue provided insufficient detail about her spouse’s business in 2019 and 2020 public financial disclosures; VA ethics attorneys had found them compliant. She remedied the subsequently identified deficiency in her 2021 disclosure.
    4. The OIG found that Ms. Bogue refused to cooperate fully in the OIG’s investigation by refusing to complete her follow-up interview. Her husband and VES president also refused to participate in OIG interviews, and the OIG lacks testimonial subpoena authority over individuals who are not VA employees.   Bogue resigned from VA in January 2022.VA 3

UPDATE: 14 April 2022Sen. Grassley was hoodwinked by the VA on this issue and The Daily Signal (linked) has more of this report.  I covered this before, I repeat only for emphasis, when you are discharged from the VA, you lose your ability to be a “whistle-blower.”  As a point of fact, this is how the VA is able to hide a lot of their shenanigans, get rid of the person rocking the boat, invent the paperwork, cover the whole incident over as a “bad-apple” and keep you collective heads down and mouths shut until the VA-OIG investigation concludes.  The VA’s ability to abuse whistle-blowers is further compounded by Federal Attorneys who cherry-pick the cases they know they can win.  Which further protects the VA’s shenanigans and disheartens and mystifies those who have been wrongly terminated.  The Daily Signal reflects this pattern of corruption perfectly citing the records obtained by Empower Oversight.

Some commentators have claimed that blaming elected officials for not scrutinizing or not providing tools to investigate entirely is unduly unfair to the congressional representatives.  Really?!?!?!  The VA-OIG conducts an investigation, the people being investigated refuse to comply, and the VA-OIG is toothless to enforce a full and complete investigation to initiate Attorney General and FBI investigations and actions to recompense the defrauded taxpayer.  Ms. Bogue and the VES have invalidated any trust the taxpayer should have in their respective activities, but this, like so many other investigations into VA employees, will die of apathy before anyone is held accountable.  Even though a congressional representative demanded an investigation, nobody is being held liable.  Nobody is forced to compensate the defrauded taxpayer, yet the taxpayer is still expected to elect the same old representatives to their jobs.  Blaming the congressional representatives (legislative branch) for not scrutinizing the executive branch, one of only two jobs these people have, is somehow unfair?  NO!Exclamation Mark

Remarkably, between the 18 March disaster with the PCP and 01 April’s compounding idiocy, the VA-OIG published an ironically titled investigation report.

Improved Governance Would Help Patient Advocates Better Manage Veterans’ Healthcare Complaints.”

Imagine that, more designed incompetence negatively impacting the veterans seeking care at a VA medical facility, stating the obvious by the investigators.  Who on earth would be responsible for seeing that regulatory agencies had the tools needed to scrutinize and demand corrective action?  Calling all elected officials, did you notice that one of the prima facia tools a veteran has to report problems, conveniently called “patient advocates,” does not have the sufficient authority, adequate oversight, and tools to execute their jobs?  The VA-OIG reports the following:

The Patient Advocacy Program helps advance the Veterans Health Administration’s (VHA) efforts to improve customer service, support veterans’ access to quality care, and provide a mechanism to resolve healthcare issues.  Patient advocates document veterans’ concerns, communicate the resolution, provide follow-up and feedback, and identify trends for potential opportunities to improve medical facilities.  In FY 2020, VHA tracked about 162,000 serious complaints in its patient advocate tracking systems.”

Angry Wet ChickenOn a side topic, VA-OIG, how do you define a “significant complaint” and separate it from other types of complaints?  Honest question, the information was, to quote my PCP, “remarkably” missing from your investigation report!  Would the VA-OIG like to know why so many veterans’ complaints have risen to a “serious” level?  You reported the exact problem:

A complaint is considered resolved when the complainant communicates the outcome, and the record is closed in the tracking system.”

Maybe, the VA-OIG merely overlooked the logic problem, but complaints increase when the solution pushed down the throats of the veterans does not fix the actual situation.  Honest question, no sarcasm involved.  Is a “serious” complaint one where significant harm or death to the patient has occurred?  Is a serious complaint one that breaks federal laws, EMTALA, comes readily to mind??u=https3.bp.blogspot.com-fYRTNk48SCwT8ua0IRDWPIAAAAAAAAFZUpexSmJsN2Kos1600overcoming-adversity-help-yourself-believe-cubby-motivational-1289878102.jpg&f=1&nofb=1

Having had “solutions” forced down my throat, speaking only for myself, I am thoroughly sick of having the patient advocates bureaucratize my complaint, then fail to act, and then compound the problem by quoting policy to me as a reason to close the complaint, when the VHA never have written policies and procedures!  Maybe, you might want to look into the root causes of some of those “closed” complaints and ask root causation questions!

What did the VA-OIG find when they investigated the patient advocates?

    • VHA lacked adequate governance of the Patient Advocacy Program.
    • VHA did not effectively issue and implement adequate policy, monitor complaint practices, and provide guidance to medical facility directors responsible for local program management.
    • Patient advocates did not always enter complaints into the system.
    • Even though complaint records generally appeared to be closed on time, patient advocates did not always document the communication of the outcomes to the complainants.
    • The VA-OIG substantiated an inadequate program policy to identify clear expectations and responsibilities.
    • The VA-OIG found that they (patient advocates) did not always adhere to the documentation requirements to show full complaint resolution.
    • At the local and VISN levels, responsible personnel did not consistently analyze patient advocate tracking system complaints about trends.

Feel free to read the complete abomination of designed incompetence for yourself.  Essentially the VA-OIG concluded that the VHA has been burning taxpayer money in a patient advocacy program, and the designed incompetence is so apparent it can be tracked from L2, where the James Webb telescope is located!  Worse, you won’t need the James Webb telescope to see the designed incompetence!James Webb Space Telescope

Unfortunately, I could have guessed the first three findings without looking.  Every VA program is designed so ineptly, reprehensibly led, criminally incompetent, and with such dastardly deceptive doings that fiction writers’ storylines have to be written better to sell books.  You cannot make this stupidity up and make a profit.  Hollywood would run screaming into the night if they made a true story about the ineptitude found at the VA!

Knowledge Check!Elected officials, where are you?  The VA-OIG presents copies of their findings to you, and I have yet to witness a single one of you holding the VA Leadership criminally responsible for the failures at the VA.  Even when the VA is killing hundreds of veterans, the US Congress refuses even to act upset, let alone scrutinize for a change!  Remember how many veterans were intentionally killed in Phoenix waiting for treatment?  How many VA employees lost their jobs and pensions or were forced in front of a judge for murder?  It is a fair question, where are the elected officials in the legislative branch working to end the criminal “fraud, waste, abuse,” and designed incompetence in the executive branch?

© 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.

Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? – The Role of the Citizen in Government

Public Service NoteThe links in this article are essential to review.  If you know better resources, please let me know in the comments.  Thank you!

QuestionIn The Satires, VI, Juvenal poses a question of great importance, “Who will watch the watchmen?”  As more and more dirt on a host of politicians comes to the fore, as China expands its heinous reach in the Pacific Ocean, threatening trade and disrupting lives, as the Russia/Ukraine crisis grows, we, the citizens, are left asking this question.  There is only one answer, we, the citizens of representative governments, are charged with watching the watchmen.  A more critical and cogent point has not presented itself in these writings.

Regularly I write about the findings of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) – Office of Inspector General (VA-OIG).  As a disabled veteran, a person falsely arrested, injured by VA Police Officers, and flagged fallaciously as a “behavioral problem,” I am a watcher of the watchmen and report on the findings.  Unfortunately, the VA has turned both a blind eye and a deaf ear to the VA-OIG and my summarizations of the VA-OIG’s conclusions.  You, the taxpayer, need to know what the government is doing in your name and with your tax dollars.  We, are the watchmen tasked with watching the watcher (elected political officials), who were hired (elected) to scrutinize the government.  Is our role in the direct representative government of this constitutional republic clear?Apathy

Did you know your neighbors sued the Baltimore Public School system for breach of public trust?  For more than 40 years, the Baltimore Public School system has intellectually abused children and misappropriated public funds through forced taxation.  The unelected school district has done this while tax revenues drop precipitously, students cannot read (yet still pass high school graduation), and the neighborhoods in Baltimore become more unsafe.  Illiteracy is directly tied to crime rates, poverty, and helplessness; yet, the school board in Baltimore cannot even be bothered to allow parents the right of school choice.  What is the role of citizens in Baltimore, the same as it is everywhere else; protect children, scrutinize government, elect different leaders, and watch more closely those elected to protect the rights of all citizens.  “Who will watch the watchmen;” you are the watchers of the watchmen, and you are being lulled to sleep!

In our constitutional republic, we have three co-equal branches of government, the executive, the legislative, and the judicial.  President Biden is reported to be in full swing of destroying the power of the judicial.  Recently the world watched aghast while a wholly unqualified person was measured for a position with the Supreme Court, the court of last resort in American Jurisprudence.  President Biden is on record claiming he would nominate the first black woman to the supreme court; after ensuring that two other more qualified women of color were refused nomination earlier in his career.  Do you sense a hypocrite, liar, and charlatan?  The judge nominated cannot tell the difference between a man and a woman, allows sexual predators to have lighter sentences as she legislated from the bench.  Yet, we, the watchers, are expected to believe she is remarkably qualified and uniquely capable of sitting on the Supreme Court.  I have serious reservations, not because she is a woman or a person of color.  My reservations rest solely upon her record as a judge, which I find detestable at best.Patriotism

Everyone is aware, COVID-19 has plagued the world since late 2019, originating in China, and the costs have been exorbitant and extreme.  Only until the Russia/Ukraine crisis came along did the global media find a new story for wall-to-wall, 24/7 coverage like feckless beasts fighting for a bone.  Repeating only for emphasis, “Where has the opposition party been during COVID-19?”  The watchers, every single one, from the mayor to the US House and Senate, went to sleep and allowed bureaucrats to overcome law and common sense to the detriment of every single citizen.  Where did the watchers go, and why did they leave the citizenry to the incautious, ineffectual, inefficacious, and abortive bureaucrats who fired professionals, broke the law without regard, and still are running free?  Liberties, rights, freedoms, were stolen without consideration, and the opposition party was nowhere to be found.  Indeed, “Who will watch the watchmen?”

The Duty of AmericansOn the topic of China, why is Marco Rubio the only member of the US Congress willing to say aloud what the citizenry is wondering?  2020 closed with China owning $1.9 BILLION or roughly 192,000 acres of prime American farmland.  Want to know where those crops grown on American soil go; I bet you can guess they aren’t traveling to US Supermarkets.  China is still buying prime farmland, and nobody in the US House or Senate is willing to listen to farmers, ranchers, and dairymen about how their land is being purchased by China and they run out of business.  Rep. Dan Newhouse was quoted regarding farmland ownership by Chinese investors as a national security issue.  “The current trend in the United States is leading us toward the creation of a Chinese-owned agricultural land monopoly.  There are currently no federal safeguards against the creation of this monopoly.”  In response to Rep. Dan Newhouse, Rep Grace Meng proclaimed, “Can we honestly say that this Amendment, which singles out one country, won’t have repercussions on Asian-Americans across our country?  Let’s include all of our adversaries.”

Who will watch the watchmen?” An honest and fair question.  I agree that no enemy of America should be allowed to own land inside America.  Not that Saudi Arabia is an enemy to America, but it is important to note not just China is purchasing farms and ranchland in America.  Worse, fresh water in California is regularly purchased to grow alfalfa for shipping to the Saudi Kingdom.  California keeps declaring they are in a drought.  The water crisis continues with or without Saudi purchases through the government’s mismanagement of resources, the need for liquid capital to keep the debt wolves away from the door, and the silly environmental laws.  “Who will watch the watchmen; is apt and very important when discussing national security issues, the acquisitions of foreign entities inside America, and the need to meet citizen needs before foreign markets.quote-mans-inhumanity

On the topic of Biden, specifically the Hunter Biden laptop and the shady deals with China, one has to ask about the timing of China’s massive land purchases ramping up.  At the same time, Joey was Vice President, and Hunter was slipping the “Big Man” money.  The Hunter Biden laptop story has been closely followed since October 2020, and the revelations released in the various news outlets on this story leave me appalled, alarmed, and amazed.  I keep asking myself about the timing, why Joey was so valuable an investment, and the answer lies in his access to Obama.  One of the media pundits discussed how Obama and Clinton are tied into the sale of access by Joey, and not all of the financial analysis is completed even now.  Leaves me asking who got paid and why during the Obama presidency?  A careful records review shows China going on a land purchasing spree simultaneously, and more questions for Secretary of State Clinton need to be addressed immediately!  “Who will watch the watchmen?”Beware of Scam Phone Calls and Emails Disguised as Vendors : The New York City District Council ...

Detective 3The US Constitution, in the 10th Amendment, provides all the authority any citizen needs to demand the watchers scrutinize the government and, if required, replace the watchers.

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

We, the citizens, own the direct representative government in America, and it is time for those elected to fear the citizenry.  Not because we have become violent, but because we are firing them, electing new representatives, and holding those removed from office accountable for their mismanagement while in elected office.  Our country is being sold out from under our feet by those elected to office, and it is time they are held accountable before the bar of justice.  Our national security is a hiss and an insult to them, all while they become enriched, and their children funnel money, and I am sick to death of seeing this nepotism.  We, the watchers of the watchmen, deserve answers from transparent and speedy investigations that conclude with people wearing distinctive clothing and permanently disgraced.

Knowledge Check!How have the watchmen become millionaires while holding public office?  This single question should be the watch cry of every single citizen in America until they are all held accountable and disgraced.  You deserve better watchers.  Our children deserve better watchers.  The world deserves better representatives of the people, by the people, and for the people.  Remember this in November!

© 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.

Continued Inanity from the US Government – Where are the Elected Officials?

Angry Wet ChickenI made the mistake of ranking the various government agencies on how intractable, unintelligent, and irresponsible they are.  I ranked the IRS based upon previous experience more competent than the VA.  That is a mistake I will not repeat any time soon, as the VA and the IRS are in a neck and neck race to the bottom!  Consider how the IRS sends you paper mail notifications; if you have questions, you are referred to a website for answers and provided several customer service numbers.  Except, when the website fails, you call the notifications’ numbers and are told that you need to visit the website for faster service.  The website refers you back to customer service, whose phone queues are always so full you are automatically disconnected after being reminded to use the website for faster service.

As my mind experiences a total meltdown, I begin twitching, and my head eventually explodes; check out this cat picture:Funny Cat Backgrounds, Pictures, ImagesDignified Stray Cat Photos Celebrate Their Unique Beauty

Some will declare this is a one-off incident; surely, the IRS is not this dysfunctional.  Try it for yourself sometime.  I never ask anyone ever to, believe me, experience this for yourself.  Check out the IRS website https://irs.gov.  Try to get solid and reliable information, and see how fast your head wants to explode.  I have been trying to appeal a decision the IRS made arbitrarily since 21 March 2022 and gotten nowhere fast.  Best of all, I have a deadline of 20 May 2022 to register an appeal, yet the website cannot answer my questions and points me back to the phone number on my notification.  The phone number auto-answer assistant refers me back to the website shortly before disconnecting my call.

As a small business owner, I had trouble getting my Tax ID number; the website said to call customer support, the phone number referred me back to the website and then disconnected my call because the queues were too full.  Ad Nauseum Ad Infinitum, but the joke is undoubtedly on me; the IRS proclaims they respect my time and are anxious to resolve the concern.  Can’t you just feel the concern and anxiety emanating from the IRS?  Where are the elected officials who need to be scrutinizing the Executive Branch and demanding better returns on the taxpayer’s investment?

As my mind experiences another total meltdown, I begin twitching, and my head eventually explodes; check out this cat picture:Cats wallpaper - Cats Wallpaper (5194935) - FanpopJust say nope | Grumpy Cat | Know Your Meme

If you’re keeping count, this is the third recent article on the culture of corruption at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in as many weeks.  No, I am not behind; the rate of the frequency of VA – Office of Inspector General (VA-OIG) reports has legitimately been this overwhelming.  Never forget, an indictment is not a conviction, and perpetrators remain innocent until proven guilty in a court of law and the trial and sentencing have been completed.

Hunter Matthew Burroughs and Stephen Keith Andrews were indicted by a federal grand jury in Fort Smith, Arkansas, for their roles in three separate conspiracies to defraud the US government and private workers’ compensation insurers.  Their alleged crimes include a billing and kickback fraud scheme with multiple physicians and medical clinics and separate fraud schemes involving the shipment of medications from Arkansas to two Louisiana physicians, who then distributed those medications from their clinics in violation of Louisiana laws.  Additionally, Burroughs was charged with wire fraud for allegedly falsifying emails he provided in a civil lawsuit involving his sale of the company.”

Not to be outdone:

Robin Calef of Brockton, Massachusetts, was sentenced to one month in prison followed by three years of supervised release after pleading guilty to one count of theft of public funds in November 2021.  She was also ordered to pay restitution of $102,289 to the VA.  In December 2006, Calef’s sister was receiving VA monthly benefits, passed away.  She failed to inform the VA of her sister’s death, and the VA continued to deposit monthly benefits into a joint bank account held by Calef and her sister until September 2017.  Bank records revealed that Calef made monthly withdrawals of approximately the exact amount of VA benefit funds deposited into the joint account.”

And:

Derrick Brewer of Enfield, Connecticut, pleaded guilty to one count of theft of government funds.  In March 2018, Brewer submitted paperwork to the VA offices in Hartford as part of an application for service-connected disability benefits.  Specifically, he submitted form DD-214, which indicated that his discharge from his former service in the US Coast Guard was characterized as “Honorable.” However, the form had been altered before its submission.  According to official Coast Guard records, Brewer’s discharge was characterized as “Other Than Honorable Conditions” following his convictions under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.  There is no record of the discharge characterization ever being upgraded.  As a result of this submission, Brewer collected nearly $70,000 in VA benefits from March 2018 through September 2020.  Sentencing is scheduled for 27 May 2022.”

And:

Sarah Jane Cavanaugh of Warwick, Rhode Island, was arrested on charges of using forged or counterfeited military discharge certificates, wire fraud, and fraudulently holding herself out to be a medal recipient to obtain money and property or another tangible benefit, and aggravated identity theft.  It is alleged that Cavanaugh claimed to be a wounded US Marine Corps veteran and recipient of a Purple Heart and Bronze Star and schemed to collect hundreds of thousands of dollars in veteran benefits and charitable contributions from organizations that provide monetary aid; to veterans in need.”

And:

From 2002 to 2019, Terrie Lynn Christian of Newaygo, Michigan, engaged in a fraudulent scheme that targeted children’s benefits programs administered by VA and the Social Security Administration (SSA).  This scheme, which involved obtaining benefits for two fictitious children, resulted in government losses of over $660,000, including approximately $110,000 for VA.  Christian was sentenced in US District Court to 30 months in prison, three years of supervised release, and restitution of over $660,000.  The VA OIG and SSA OIG investigated this case.”

Do you notice anything odd in these stories of fraud; the documents did not stand up to scrutiny, but fraud was still perpetrated.  I have authentic documents proving service; I have had to present original documents several times and sign affidavits testifying these documents are my documents.  I am a veteran, and under the threat of severe penalties, I swore that I was not attempting to defraud the US Government.  Would someone please explain how these people, and so many others, can commit fraud so frequently?  Would someone please explain how the VHA and the VBA accepted clearly doctored documents and fraud executed?  Finally, where are the VBA and VA employees being held accountable for failing to do their jobs and allowing this fraud to be perpetrated with complicity?Mediocrity Joke

Time after time, I have been denied help, been given the bureaucratic runaround, and refused assistance until my documentation can be certified.  Then after my documents are approved, they are still rejected by bureaucrats who refuse to do their jobs.  Yet, crimes and fraud are perpetrated with the same bureaucratic inertia and complicit behavior.  Elected officials, do you understand why taxpayers are frustrated?

What reignites the explosion of my head is that these are only two of the multiplicity of government agencies.  Nobody knows how much fraud is perpetrated by employees and customers, and worse, even fewer care.  Elected officials, will you please explain why you are not more concerned and avidly involved in ending the fraud?

Let me cast your mind backward to 2005.  United States v. Alvarez, 567 US 709, is a case in which the United States Supreme Court ruled that the Stolen Valor Act of 2005 was unconstitutional.  The Stolen Valor Act of 2005 was a federal law that criminalized false statements about having a military medal.  Elected officials, when the judges legislated from the bench, overstepping their authority, why didn’t you immediately go back to work and redraft legislation to end the theft of valor and penalize people committing fraud?  Instead, you rolled over like a dead, bloated, floating body, and valor theft has worsened!Plato 3

Elected officials, why have you not drafted new legislation to curb government theft?  Why have you consistently refused to act to curb the bureaucrats from abusing taxpayers?  Why do you remain silent on the shrinking morals in America that open the doors for more abuse of the law?  We elected you to the office to take action; what are you doing?  Yes, mayors, city councilors, judges, dog catchers, school board members, county commissioners, and every other single officer elected, you are included in this plea for action!

Dont Tread On MeAgain, I implore you, the voters, to scrutinize your elected officials for their continued employment.  Yes, start today.  I know the elections are months away, but it requires time to evaluate performance, become knowledgeable, and prepare to act on election day.  You deserve a better government, and those in office deserve to be unemployed!

© 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.