• September 17, 2014

Veterans express concerns at VA town hall

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Posted: Thursday, August 21, 2014 11:45 pm

TEMPLE — The room was full at the town hall and listening session for veterans and their families Thursday at the Olin E. Teague Veterans’ Medical Center.

Listening is the operative word, Sallie Houser-Hanfelder, director of the Central Texas Veterans Health Care System, told the crowd.

“We’re not here to feed you a lot of information, but to hear your concerns,” she said.

Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald urged systemwide sessions to generate feedback after recent controversy over long wait times for health care at VA clinics.

Speakers, who only used their first names at the microphone, expressed a variety of concerns.

Lorenzo talked about his frustration in getting in to talk to the director.

“I thought you had an open door policy for veterans to come in and talk to you,” Lorenzo said to Houser-Handfelder.

She explained she doesn’t have a true open door policy because she’s responsible for nine sites of care across Central Texas and has offices in three of those locations — Temple, Waco and Austin. There are 98,000 veterans enrolled for services at those sites.

VA clerks’ and patient advocates’ attitudes and willingness to help took a lot of heat in the comments.

The clerks seem defensive and detached, Lorenzo said.

“We have some great staff, but we have some customer service issues,” Houser-Hanfelder said.

The phone system is frustrating and doesn’t work correctly. Andrew Garcia, assistant director of operations, and other VA staff have been appointed to fix the phones, she said.

Several veterans were frustrated with the claims process and what they considered a disrespectful staff.

Appointment issues

Barbara, an Army veteran, said she was pleased with her care at the Temple VA hospital after surgeries.

Her concern was with her doctor’s appointments being limited to 30 minutes. She said doctors seem more interested in talking about what they consider important and not allowing time for the patient to share concerns.

The VA is in the process of sensitizing its caregivers so they pay more attention to the concerns of the patient, said Dr. Olwale Fashina, chief of staff.

The VA has to have some form of schedule and tries to hit a happy medium at 30 minutes per appointment.

One veteran said he was frustrated by how long it took to get a new primary-care doctor.

Another, who has seen multiple specialists, was concerned about the lack of communication between those providers.

“We’re looking at how we complete the circle,” Houser-Hanfelder said.

Not all of Thursday’s comments from veterans were negative.

“You guys deserve an attaboy, overall,” Winfield said.

Other officials participating in Thursday’s forum included Bryan Sisk, associate director for patient and nursing services, and John Limpose, director of the Waco VA Regional Office. The information gleaned from the session will be sent up the system early next week.

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Welcome to the discussion.

23 comments:

  • lbardell posted at 7:45 pm on Thu, Sep 4, 2014.

    lbardell Posts: 22

    We need an EZ VA Form and Coverage Award Process - I am sure that the IRS does this. 1. Is claimed condition covered and has it been awarded to others for same condition? yes - go to #2

    2. Is there any evidence, diagnosis, comment, or other appropriate presumptive information concerning the condition in the claimants military records, military medical records or substantive evidence in later records to support the claim? yes - go to #3

    3. Can the VA prove that the condition pre-existed or was not caused or aggravated by Service? No - Award and Award the following Amounts based on the claimants condition and employability.

    BUT THE VA BELIEVES ALL CLAIMS FRAUDULENT TO BEGIN WITH - LIKE AN INSURANCE COMPANY AND THEN IT EXCLUDES COVERED CONDITIONS AT WILL.

     
  • lbardell posted at 7:32 pm on Thu, Sep 4, 2014.

    lbardell Posts: 22

    So the Army first identifies my claimed disabling condition in my Army.
    Hospital Medical Records - they don't tell me, later I am struck again.
    with same - I seek treatment and have been since in college right after.
    the Army, later I am recruited with CIA twice - Harold Ford - but I.
    cannot get position due to illness in Army Medical Records, Later I pass.
    the State Dept.'s FSO exam and I am invited to DC in April 2002 for.
    interview - until they review my medical condition and I cannot be.
    employed - The Head Doctor at the Mission Valley VA tells me I qualify.
    for disability benefits and that I should apply, I do so and now have.
    been fighting for over 10 years - so Army screws me by not informing.
    about disabling condition, I cannot obtain employment because of the.
    condition, and then VA denies benefits - talk about F-N someone over. It
    has driven me into the Anarchist Camp - the overwhelmingly negative.
    interaction with the Official System that is. The Peace Corps even.
    rejected me because of my disability.

     
  • lbardell posted at 7:31 pm on Thu, Sep 4, 2014.

    lbardell Posts: 22

    The only ones getting paid and benefits are the VA Employees. Perpetuate the backlogs - get bonuses and permanent job security.

     
  • lbardell posted at 7:30 pm on Thu, Sep 4, 2014.

    lbardell Posts: 22

    Perhaps we should actually bang on our shields and not just show up like a bunch of typical American Sheep Yahoos who just do whatever those in power tell us to do and to accept whatever they give us. BANG ON YOUR SHIELDS - make the VA and Government hear you. What kind of warriors are you?

     
  • lbardell posted at 7:30 pm on Thu, Sep 4, 2014.

    lbardell Posts: 22

    Fully Developed Claim + Expeditious = The Final Solution (that is) de facto denial permanently) Die Endloesung - delay, demean, deny, and hope that you die.

     
  • lbardell posted at 7:30 pm on Thu, Sep 4, 2014.

    lbardell Posts: 22

    What is needed is as I stated below - cut the Gordian Knot.
    Essentially, what you have is a Government Agency Acting as an Insurance.
    Company that seeks to deny at all cost rather than award - and, an.
    added show judicial process that seeks to use legal means to de facto.
    deny should one persist in the claim. This is fraud on behalf of the.
    agency and criminal as it violates the charge to award if no overwhelming evidence to.
    the the contrary.

     
  • lbardell posted at 7:29 pm on Thu, Sep 4, 2014.

    lbardell Posts: 22

    Once in the appeals and remand cycle - one has no effective recourse - The BVA makes you wait at least a year or two to get to a Judge for the hearing of the appeal - then the judge goes away and reviews at least 3 years later before making a decision - in almost 50% of these reviews - they are seemingly auto remanded to the regional office - at this point the records may go dormant up to 2 and 1|2 years - then back to the RO for review at its leisure - no time constraints at all - then they intentionally make a mistake in the reply to the BVA - then wait a few more years and BVA sees the "mistakes" and then back to Regional office - and, the cycle repeats ad infinitum - if the final decision is rendered and you appeal to court - at least 4 years wait to get to the court - then the majority of time it is remanded again. Hence, de facto denial, even for covered conditions, then death.

     
  • lbardell posted at 7:28 pm on Thu, Sep 4, 2014.

    lbardell Posts: 22

    For one thing, I would like to see an examination and investigation of the docketing system as well vis-a-vis the official line regarding this - examine actual documents in the process and verify at what point they were assigned a docket number and how were they selected in the review process for the BVA's examination and at what date and in what sequence.

     
  • lbardell posted at 7:28 pm on Thu, Sep 4, 2014.

    lbardell Posts: 22

    Should the VA desire or in error not to award your benefits there is no practical.
    way to get those benefits and no effective legal means at all. One knows
    that the system is corrupt simply by looking for an instance in the.
    entire corrupt system that demonstrates this - almost 50% of all appeals.
    are remanded seemingly in an automatic manner - once in this process it.
    has virtually no chance of ever being awarded and they will tie you up.
    as years become decades - for instance - you may have a covered.
    condition but there is no means to ever prove this - no time frame, no.
    mechanism, no effective due process. In my case 1. the condition is.
    covered and has been awarded to others, 2. Is there a record of this in.
    the Military Record - in my case yes. 3. Can the VA demonstrate evidence.
    that this wasn't a result or aggravated by service - no they cannot.
    But they take the reverse approach of entangling such a claim up with.
    insurance like claims examiners who act as both final medical experts.
    and adjudicators and say that I have to prove through non-existing.
    evidence that it wasn't the case before service and or that one of their.
    medical professionals has to state an absolute cause and effect basis -
    which is not a cognitive or epistemological construct allowed by the.
    medical profession - hence fraudulent denial which is in direct conflict.
    with the charge that the VA shall act on behalf and in favor of the.
    veteran where doubt exists and conclusive evidence to contrary may not.
    be offered. They know that it is for all practical purposes a de facto.
    permanent denial. It creates the backlog by acting as an insurance.
    company vis-a-vis on behalf of the Veteran. The VA's entire process is.
    set up to create grid lock by its philosophical positioning which holds.
    truly that the Veteran is attempting to submit a fraudulent claim.

     
  • lbardell posted at 7:27 pm on Thu, Sep 4, 2014.

    lbardell Posts: 22

    I am quite sure that there most likely are lists that advise processors.
    who hold biases to deny those claims that they simply do not like and.
    know that since the Veteran has no real means to force a decision.
    through an outside and unbiased party they can get away with it forever -
    despite the fact that the right has covered condition - the VA knows.
    the Vet has no effective recourse.

     
  • lbardell posted at 7:27 pm on Thu, Sep 4, 2014.

    lbardell Posts: 22

    I want to know about ex parte communications with QTC and C&P.
    examinations - especially where the medical officer agrees that the Vet.
    has the stated covered condition, but the VA used tactics to deny the.
    claim simply by simply ignoring or through a process of deception like.
    strawman questions. A good Reporter should be able to find this practice.
    at the VA through the same investigative methods.

     
  • lbardell posted at 7:27 pm on Thu, Sep 4, 2014.

    lbardell Posts: 22

    We need to look for memos and other communications, unofficial working.
    SOPs that are used in processing claims but are in conflict with the VAs.
    legal mandates, and to interview people willing to talk about the.
    actual functioning of the VA and its methods, we need also to consider.
    the overwhelming abundance of anecdotal evidence and information that.
    exists.

     
  • lbardell posted at 7:26 pm on Thu, Sep 4, 2014.

    lbardell Posts: 22

    For example - Also at the Appeals Level - Last year the V.A.'s Board of Appeals found.
    errors in three-quarters of the cases it heard. - California Reporter. The Backlogs are contrived for de facto denial. A 75% ERROR RATE MEANS ITS PROBABLY INTENTIONAL.

     
  • lbardell posted at 7:26 pm on Thu, Sep 4, 2014.

    lbardell Posts: 22

    10 plus years is hardly expeditious - I would say that most of us have.
    been more than patient - there is seldom any justice for the little guy -
    for the disadvantaged - even most of the middle class cannot afford.
    representation - the court system itself is a joke when it deals in such.
    delay and deny tactics. It just alienates most and then acts puzzled.
    when people have had enough. Typically, the rich just buy justice - the.
    rest of us get whatever the system can get away with.

     
  • lbardell posted at 7:25 pm on Thu, Sep 4, 2014.

    lbardell Posts: 22

    The VA knowingly treats Veterans with the same exact conditions and level of disability differently and has admitted as much - some get nothing some get an award of the benefits and within those who do get benefits - the amounts awarded may be entirely different.

     
  • lbardell posted at 7:25 pm on Thu, Sep 4, 2014.

    lbardell Posts: 22

    The VA uses euphemistic language that is in reality undefined - like "Expeditious Treatment" and "Fully Developed Claim" which are all meaningless except to delay and effectively deny through a de facto denial of due process. The only time constraints that are firm are applied to the Veteran - the VA has no firm timeline nor does it have accountability to the government or to the individual veteran. Expeditious is undefined, meaningless - Fully developed claim is a meaningless insurance company approach generally used to delay and deny claims - especially, when the VA has no mechanism to quickly address a claimed specific or general problem that the VA has used to deny a covered claim. The VA also simply chooses to ignore provided evidence without any contrary evidence and denies claims and then ties them up in an endless backlog of its own creating at the appeals and remand cycle. Once denied, for whatever reason - in error, the Vet is effectively denied ad infinitum.

     
  • lbardell posted at 7:25 pm on Thu, Sep 4, 2014.

    lbardell Posts: 22

    Backlogs - VA - It is not the cavalcade of new applications that the VA.
    points to - it is the 1. NOD appeal to the BVA hearing - created by VA.
    policy of denying claims without cause 2. BVA decision takes 3 years or.
    more it then creates the 3. Remand to RO Backlog and the mostly endless.
    appeals/remand cycle 4. If the Vet is finally denied by the BVA then the.
    Vet restarts the claim or goes to the Court - the backlog here just.
    waiting for it to get to court is at least 4 years - then once the.
    decision is rendered again a long wait - often it is sent back to #3.
    and the process starts again.

     
  • lbardell posted at 7:24 pm on Thu, Sep 4, 2014.

    lbardell Posts: 22

    Perhaps we should actually bang on our shields and not just show up like a bunch of typical American Sheep Yahoos who just do whatever those in power tell us to do and to accept whatever they give us. BANG ON YOUR SHIELDS - make the VA and Government hear you. What kind of warriors are you?

     
  • lbardell posted at 7:24 pm on Thu, Sep 4, 2014.

    lbardell Posts: 22

    The Problem with the OIG inspecting the VA is that it is part of the VA.
    The OIG may be able to look at individual corruption effectively but it.
    cannot investigate systemic corruption, fraud, and inefficiencies for.
    it is not charged nor trained for such and since it is part of that.
    systemic corruption itself.

     
  • lbardell posted at 7:23 pm on Thu, Sep 4, 2014.

    lbardell Posts: 22

    I have paid thousands of dollars over the years for medical care for which I should have been covered because the VA denies my benefits without cause. I take 4 anti-epileptic medications - get my regular social security for the claimed condition, the medicine is prescribed for the claimed condition and I get it through the VA. I am treated for the condition. It was first commented on in my Army Medical records while in service as "early stage" and yet the VA has the gall to deny it and tie it up in a remand cycle for over 10 years now. It is a criminal act on behalf of the Veteran's Affairs Administration that it fraudulently participates in as a matter of Standard Operating Procedure. Bear in mind - I am impoverished due to the disability.

     
  • lbardell posted at 7:23 pm on Thu, Sep 4, 2014.

    lbardell Posts: 22

    One only need look at the entire VA claims process to see that the.
    system is set up to deny benefits against its own handbook of procedure -
    once, denied and appealed - almost no Vet is ever awarded benefits - a.
    very few exceptions to the contrary - the claims processor acts both as.
    final Medical Expert and Adjudicator in issuing a cursory but final.
    denial for all practical purposes.

     
  • lbardell posted at 7:22 pm on Thu, Sep 4, 2014.

    lbardell Posts: 22

    It should be quite simple - is this a covered condition and if so are others receiving benefits? If yes - go to next.

    Is there any evidence of the illness in the Military Records or likely a result thereof or aggravated by service? yes go to next If no - can it be tied to service by later evidence?

    Can the VA prove or offer overwhelming evidence that there is a pre-existing condition or another cause? No - then award.

     
  • Captain Paul posted at 9:30 pm on Fri, Aug 22, 2014.

    Captain Paul Posts: 1

    A better VA Health Care System would be to put every veteran on CHAMPVA, and allow each veteran to use whatever health care the community, from where he lives, can provide! Yes this becomes more an insurance issue then a Brick and Mortar business! There are several hundred VA and Military Hospitals, with US Public Health Hospitals included, that could be reduced or reorganized to better serve the veteran and military community, better!
    My idea to "Fix" VA Medical Veterans Care problems! Put ever veteran on CHAMPVA at the same rates of coverage as the spouse of a veteran allowed CHAMPVA health coverage! That would allow veterans to seek personal health care with local doctors, with less dependence on the VA Health clinics, and Hospitals! Perhaps making adjustments to the amount of paid medical, 80% to 100%, due to the severity of the individual veteran’s disability compensation rate, or pension status! Such an idea would put the veteran's health care back into the community in which the veteran lives! As you are aware, the thirty mile rule allows veterans to seek emergency care locally, with the VA picking up a portion, or all of the cost! Travel payments to the veteran would be reduced! I have Tricare for life, but the example of Tricare Standard, but under the name of CHAMPVA, and administration, would save both money and improve medical care for our veterans! This is only an idea, but one that should be implemented now! The physical expansion of VA Hospitals could be restricted, which would allow for some serious savings! As with Tricare, VA Hospitals would serve the same purpose as Uniformed Military Hospitals to reduce costs, to be used by those veterans living nearby for daily use!

     

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