VA Death By Waiting - Secret Lists

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Carlsbad, CA - Idiocy, Taxes, and Caring Less for Homeowners Quality of Life

The City of Carlsbad, California has found a new way to fill their tax coffers, while helping to add to the misery of the homeowners of the "Village by the Sea" as it has come to be known. The new misery is known as Vacation Rentals.

It's not just vacation rentals, but unbounded vacation rentals, where any homeowner west of El Camino Real can now rent their home by the day, week or month any time of the year simply by obtaining a no-cost permit from the city. Unless your Homeowners Association CC and R's expressly prohibit such rentals, the rest of the neighborhood is...well...screwed. This was passed by the City with no notice to the homeowners; such activity was prohibited in the past. 

You will now be subject to all sorts of new people in and out at all times of the day, night and week, people that you don't know. In fact, people that the person who rented their home does not know! There is no vetting process; from what I have been able to determine, it's all done over the phone, not even a face to face meeting with the owner. Information is exchanged, credit card information taken, and the code to a lock box and, if required, an access code is provided for a gated community. Thus any semblance of security that the homeowners are paying for has now been destroyed as their gate code is in the hands of how many strangers?

And who are these people? Vacationers? Kids who have their parents rent the home for them? Party animals from some local or out of state college that will ruin your life for how long? Is the solution to call the police every night that they keep you up past midnight with loud partying when you have to go to work at 5 AM?  Who cares about the security deposit when it's YOU, not the homeowner who rented the place that has to put up with the problems. He's somewhere else enjoying his peace and solitude. And, if the "vacationers" do damage outside the confines of the rental property, who will pay for that? I can see lawsuits where you have to sue your former neighbor due to his "vacationers".

Many people on vacation are truly responsible and there are hotels and homes on the beach that have been rentals for eons just for that purpose. So why did the City of Carlsbad allow this to happen? Greed! Just to collect tax revenue! The city officials claim it's good to open the doors for more tourists and places for them to stay, but not at the cost to the residents who actually live here and must be subjected to this nonsense. I'd bet if a vacation rental opened up beside one of the city officials homes, they would be quick to figure out a way to shut it down. Plus, these homes do not have to pass city inspection like a hotel! What about insurance? Do the insurance companies know these are being used as rental homes for hotel type occupancy?  If there is a fire or liability loss, do these homeowners have adequate insurance coverage or, in the case of a Home Owners Association, will the HOA have to "pony up" because of insufficient coverage? 

Lots of questions and few answers. Unlike how things used to be, you no longer have any expectations on who might be in the home next to you tonight...or tomorrow...or the night after.

My suggestion to the good homeowners who are the true victims of this governmental snafu is to call the police department when they are disturbed by loud parties or problems with these vacation rentals. Enough complaints will put the city on notice that we are not happy with this transgression. And, enough complaints will also let the vacation home renters send a message to the owners that we might not be the most welcoming community they could wish for. After all, we do not have to like what the City has shoved down our throats! Bad reviews by renters will result in vacation rentals dropping fast! Like they used to say...welcome to go home! 

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

California...the Drought and Electric Supply

As most people know, we have a severe to exceptional drought in California. Couple that with a shortage of electrical generating capacity and you have the makings of a catastrophic scenario that would result in not only financial but physical ruin to the people of this state.

However, in their lackadaisical and lackluster management style, the politicians and politicos of the entire state have somehow decided that it is okay to issue tens of thousands, or perhaps more, building permits, most for single family dwellings, that will severely deplete the existing water and electric supplies. Many are being built in areas that will require heavy use of air conditioning and with three and four bathrooms, thus severely increasing water usage, not even considering irrigation usage.

But the politicians don't want to talk about that. All they can think about is tax base. Growth is good for California is what they tell us. Put a house or some other building on every square foot of ground that you can, and leave only a tiny plot of green and call it a "preserve".  That "tax base" will not provide more water or electricity, and when we run out you won't be getting any water from it. Nor will the homes be helping the rotating blackouts and brownouts we will be seeing as a result of the excessive load on the electric grids.

San Diego Gas and Electric promised we would have more than adequate power once the Sunrise Power Link ws completed, regardless of the future of the San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant. They lied. Once San Onofre went off-line, there started to be talk of shortages, and here we are again in the same quandary with power shortages and the power company whining about lack of generating capacity. Yet they now want to increase fees to a two tier system so the homes in the desert will pay less and those on the coast who use less electric will pay more. The power company says it is only fair as it equalizes costs for all. Sounds like an Obama plan to share the wealth, doesn't it? Take away from those who save, will tolerate 85 degrees at night in their homes when the Santa Ana winds blow and don't use air conditioning, and give it to those who keep their homes nice and cool.  What a crock of crap.

Again, about water, I own a small home with two bedrooms and two bathrooms. A postage stamp size personal yard and a few plants my spouse waters infrequently. We use an average of 7 units of water a month, sometimes as low as 5 or 6 units. But using 7 as a reasonable basis. A unit is 768 gallons so that equates to roughly 5,376 gallons or 179 gallons a day. We do a load of wash every day, sometimes two, (front loader ECO machine) drink city water through filters, shower (low flow heads), cook, flush toilets (low flow flush), water for our cats, and an occasional hot bath for a sore back. We take our cars to the $5.00 car wash occasionally so we don't wash them at home anymore. We find from the water company that our use is average for a home of our size in this development, where the community landscape is basically watered by a combination of reclaimed and city water.

If you double the size of the home, bathrooms, occupants, land space, etc, you effectively almost double the water usage. So even if you consider the water usage at 12 units instead of 14, you will be looking at  9,216 gallons per month for a new home that really watches their water usage. Multiply that by tens of thousands and then add in all the industrial and commercial spaces that are going up and we're in much worse shape than the politicians admit.

And, finally, know who will be so screwed by all this? The long time homeowners. Because we will be the first to lose water and electricity as we are on established grids. The new buildouts will simply slow down as we watch our economy and jobs go down the tubes. Our short sighted politicians will blame all this on someone else and run out the door like the rats they are deserting a sinking ship.

Sadly, this is not a prophesy. It's a fact that, unless there is a miracle, will come true. It's already a fact in the Central Valley where we have the New Dust Bowl as a result of decisions made solely by politicians. It's coming our way sooner than anyone thinks.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Epidemic, Pandemic, What the New Illegal Immigrants are Bringing to YOU

Every day you read or hear of the hoards of children and adults rushing the U.S. Mexico Border as they push into the United States from El Salvador, Guatemala, and other South American countries as well as Mexico. The unbridled immigration of these illegals is a shame, a threat to our national security, overwhelming our Border Patrol and damaging the sovereignty of our borders. These people, children not withstanding are illegal and need to be repatriated to their country of origin immediately, NOT processed and then dispersed among the unsuspecting American people, while awaiting immigration court hearings.

FACT: 90% of people ordered to show up for hearings never show! They just melt into the immigrant society and are never apprehended. The US ends up supporting them on your tax dollar when they become ill, or through the welfare system that runs rampant with farad fraud.

So, forget about all the above. Forget the illegality of the illegals and the costs to the taxpayers and the dishonesty of the Obama regime. Forget about all that is being foisted upon the American people by our lying government in Washington. But keep this in mind:

Tuberculosis, Scabies, H1N1 (swine) Flu, Chagas Disease, Measles, Mumps, Rubella, 
plus Hepatitis and STD's 
and maybe Smallpox and Polio!!!

Add to that, that the type tuberculosis found is the drug resistant strain that is difficult to treat. And these children and adults (remember they classify anyone under 18) have been released into the general US population without adequate health checks or vaccinations. And without adequate testing to determine who might develop TB from contacts during their travels or in close quarters at holding areas. 

Remember, the health standards where these people are coming from are far substandard to ours. Vaccination programs in some areas are non-existent. Disease runs rampant. So we are receiving people who are ill or exposed to illness that we are not prepared for and are spreading it into the community. No matter what lies the government mouthpieces tell you. 

Did the government De-louse these kids, many of who had head lice so bad you could see the lice crawling from feet away, per reports? Did they De-louse the planes and buses? What will happen to the next passenger on the public transportation system when they were dropped off at bus stations in towns. Imagine riding the bus to work or school and how you will feel coming home with head lice. Or when your children come home with it. A nice cross country trip on Greyhound anyone? Once again, no thinking about Americans, just illegals and how to move them into the US quickly so they can never be found again.

Did you think these kids and adults brought their vaccination records with them? Did you think that the US was going to be able to adequately give them health checks and vaccinate them before moving them on to God knows where? Dis you think the government was going to hold these illegals for a minimum time to ascertain none had contracted TB from someone else on their journey before turning them loose on your community? And your family or children? Anecdotal evidence says no way in hell did the government do the right thing and that evidence is piling up higher every day. 

What we have is a ticking time bomb. One that will start exploding in many small clusters of disease that could easily start to overwhelm our health system. If you imagine thousands of patients coming to hospitals with complaints of diseases that we had not seen in many years and the numbers keep multiplying and get more serious, the epidemic begins. Then, those who will not go out for fear of being caught will allow the disease not only to fester, but spread to others and soon the entire family will have it and then spread it to others. A cycle will be born that will make the horror movies look like a child wrote them. Only this time, it will be likely a child started them, a pandemic like we have never experienced.

If you think I am overreacting, go ahead and research the topic. Look at what some eminent epidemiologists have to say about this mess. And then pray because there isn't a lot more you can do until Obama and the other idiots figure out how to revere this mess they started. Sad truth is that they can't.  

Never expect the government to keep you safe. You are on your own! The powers that be ONLY look out for themselves!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

More Postal Disservice

Okay, where does it really end? Frankly, I am now convinced that the U. S. Postal Service does not give a rats ass about their clients in any way shape or form.

If you have read my past posts on this miserable mail service we have, you know the type of disservice we get. It actually has been getting worse. Let me tell you how:

1. I wrote a complaint to the U. S. Postmaster Generals Office of the Inspector General. After several weeks I received an e-mail telling me that it's not their job to follow up on mail handling problems. They are only interested in fraud, abuse, waste, etc. Waste? And what is this about ensuring efficiency and integrity? Good God,this must have been written by the same politico that wrote stuff for the Fast and Furious program and the IRS and NSA abuse programs. Amazing that they turn a blind eye to this and then wonder why they are going bankrupt. What the hell do they think these employees are doing when they don't handle the mail properly? But no, they can't bother dealing with small shippers or clients so screw us. Here's the gist of their response:

"The primary responsibility of the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General is to prevent, detect, and report fraud, waste, and misconduct; and to conduct independent audits and investigations of Postal Service programs and operations to ensure their efficiency and integrity.

The issues raised in your correspondence do not fall within the jurisdiction of this office. These matters do appear to be within the jurisdiction of the office listed below. Therefore, we are forwarding your complaint to them for their review and direct response to you.
For further information, please contact:

United States Postal Service
Consumer & Industry Contact Office

2. The above refer us to the local USPS Consumer Affairs office in our area who sends us a wonderful...form letter telling us to use the web site or 1-800 number. Yes, the one with terminal hold or the one that doesn't get you any useful information. Oh and the web site that will get you an e-mail from your local post office with some bull crap saying they are doing all they can to deliver for you.

3. I call the Consumer Affairs office and they try and bullshit you so it appears they actually are doing something and tell you to call the local post office, which doesn't have a phone number. Finally, after 20 minutes or so, the idiot at the consumer affairs office promises to escalate the case "upstairs" to an Area Manager who will call me within two working days. It's now been over a week and no contact. So much for case escalation. Must be to the circular file. Incidentally, the "hard working" Consumer Affairs Office for the San Diego District is only open from 9AM to 3PM 5 days a week. That's just 30 hours those poor people must work their fingers to the bone. Poor postal workers hard at work for the consumers. Right. You have to move off your ass to move the mail or move the dead wood, neither of which seems to be a likelihood. Will I ever hear from the Area Manager? I really doubt it. Chatter has it that he doesn't want to be bothered with complaints, wants consumers to call the worthless 1-800 line or use the USPS web site too. More customer disservice. And they wonder why they lose money?

4. Mail does not get scanned when it's outgoing. We have packages that leave Carlsbad 92011 and never get scanned until they reach an East Coast destination. Lately, we have had mail for other people placed in our mail box and packages for other people placed in a hold box and the key left in our mail box. We hand delivered the box to the right person. A high value parcel was left 4 blocks away at another address in front of a gate for at least a day before a neighbor noticed it and asked the resident if she knew it was there. The elderly person never opens that gate, and luckily the sprinklers did not come on or the contents would have been ruined. Is the freaking mail person dyslexic or what?

5. The local post office takes no accountability for their screw-ups. The supervisors say they will talk to the carriers or will fix the issues but the issues simply continue. And when packages are not scanned at the post office after being sorted there, how is that the carriers fault? It's an epidemic of slovenly labor that is perpetuated by a postal labor system that allows dead wood employees to remain on the job for years long after their efficiency should have been rated incompetent. Just go to the post office on a busy day and watch a clerk suddenly close his or her window and walk away because it's their break time, no matter how long the line is, thus prolonging your wait time. It happens all the time. Because that's how the system works. Snails pace, unlikely to be fired or disciplined and screw the customers. That's unless you are one of the few route carriers that actually work their butts off and deliver the mail and provide great customer service. We know one or two and they are few and far between.

6. Carrier Pickup is a hit and miss proposition. When the carrier doesn't get the pickup order from the post office, of course they do not know to pick up your waiting packages. So later in the day you have to call the post office and ask why your priority mail was not picked up. This is a case where one blames the other. The post office makes it seem like the carrier is the idiot who forgot to pick up your package when in reality, the supervisor or whoever handles the pickup notices at the post office never gives the carrier the pickup notice, so how would the carrier know to pick up the package? We have actually had the carrier come the next day with the notice to show us she never received the notice until a day late. WE are considering changing to FedEx and UPS if this continues. Just not worth the hassle as you never know if your packages will be picked up or not. And you have to laugh at their $20 pickup charge outside your normal pickup hours. They don't guarantee they will pickup at any special time for that $20...maybe not at all. Read the fine print and then DO NOT USE IT!

7. just needed the Spiderman boxes? How about delivering the freaking mail, eejits and forget the stupid boxes. You aren't Super Heroes by a long shot. Your performance is more like Super Zeros.....00000000000..absolutely nothing to brag about at all.

I'll be laughing with every package that I ship by FedEx because it's another ten or twenty bucks that the USPS won't get in their coffers. Multiply me by thousands and then tens of thousands, they will soon be bankrupt. And I'll be telling my Congressman and Senator just exactly why not to support these eejits in the future.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Lots More on the Phoenix VA Debacle...and it's Spreading!

 From the:Logo

Chairman Miller Statement Regarding Allegations of Veteran Deaths, Secret Waiting List at PVAHCS

Apr 24, 2014
WASHINGTON, D.C.— Following media reports that 40 veterans seeking care at the Phoenix VA Health Care System died while awaiting treatment and may have been placed on a secret waiting list, Chairman Miller released the following statement:
“These are extremely disturbing allegations, which is why weeks ago I called for a complete and thorough inspector general investigation into delays in VA care – in Phoenix and department wide – and shared with the IG all of the evidence our committee has acquired as part of our own investigation. If proven true, these charges will only add to the growing pattern of preventable veteran deaths and patient safety incidents at VA medical centers across the country that are united by one common theme: VA’s extreme reluctance to hold its employees and executives accountable. In fact, if you look at recent VA preventable deaths linked to mismanagement – in Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Columbia, S.C., Augusta, Ga., and Memphis, Tenn. – department executives who presided over mismanagement are more likely to have received a bonus or glowing performance review than any sort of punishment. It's well past time for VA leaders at all levels to heed the alarms many in the veterans community have been sounding for more than a year. That means holding employees accountable - instead of rewarding them - for mismanagement that harms veterans and being honest with Congress and the public about the department's problems. This is the only way VA can regain the trust of the veterans it is charged with serving and bring some much-needed closure to the families of those who have died.” – Rep. Jeff Miller, Chairman, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs
 Chairman Miller Preservation Request to Sec. Shinseki

 VA Litigation Hold (Preservation Order)

Chairman Miller Responds to Calls for VA Leadership Changes

May 5, 2014
WASHINGTON, D.C.— Following the American Legion’s calls for VA leadership changes, Chairman Miller released the following statement:
“Make no mistake. There is a crisis of confidence with VA’s top leadership, and the American Legion’s calls for the resignations of the department’s top leaders should be sending shock waves through the White House. I have the utmost respect for Commander Dellinger’s opinion, and while I am going to wait until VA’s inspector general releases its report on the situation in Phoenix before deciding to call for any personnel changes, this much is clear: for nearly a year, we have been pleading with top department leaders and President Obama to take immediate steps to stop the growing pattern of preventable veteran deaths and hold accountable any and all VA employees who have allowed patients to slip through the cracks. In response, we’ve received disturbing silence from the White House and one excuse after another from VA. Right now, President Obama and Sec. Shinseki are faced with a stark choice: take immediate action to help us end the culture of complacency that is engulfing the Veterans Health Administration and compromising patient safety, or explain to the American people and America’s veterans why we should tolerate the status quo.” – Rep. Jeff Miller, Chairman, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs

Chairman Miller Writes Sec. Shinseki About Delayed Action to Preserve Phoenix VAHCS Evidence, Shredded Waiting List

May 1, 2014
WASHINGTON, D.C.— Today, Chairman Miller wrote to Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki regarding the department’s delayed actions to preserve possible evidence related to allegations that veterans seeking care at the Phoenix VA Health Care System may have died while awaiting treatment and may have been placed on a secret waiting list. Chairman Miller’s letter also addressed VA’s admitted shredding of a waiting list department officials have said may be the “secret” list cited by Phoenix VA Health Care System whistleblowers.

View the letter here.

Chairman Miller Calls on Shinseki to Restore Faith in Phoenix Investigation

May 2, 2014
WASHINGTON, D.C.— After media reports that officials at the Phoenix VA Health Care System may have been intentionally destroying possible evidence related to the federal investigation of the Phoenix VA Health Care System as recently as April 27, the department’s delayed actions to preserve possible evidence, and VA’s admitted destruction of a waiting list department officials have speculated may be the “secret” list cited by Phoenix VA Health Care System whistleblowers, Chairman Miller released the following statement:
“As if the allegations of patient deaths and a secret waiting list at the Phoenix VA Health Care System weren’t bad enough, now we’re hearing reports of possible attempts to cover up this despicable situation. VA Secretary Eric Shinseki did the right thing by placing three Phoenix VAHCS administrators on leave. But by no means does that common-sense step, which should have already been done weeks ago, take VA out of the hot seat. In order to restore Americans’ faith in the integrity of the federal investigation in Phoenix, Sec. Shinseki needs to answer some very direct questions in short order. Why did it take VA a full eight days to order the preservation of possible evidence related to the investigation? What are VA leaders doing to ensure evidence is not destroyed in Phoenix? Why is VA Under Secretary for Health Robert Petzel claiming there is ‘no evidence’ to support the allegations in Phoenix even though he is not involved with the investigation? What is the factual basis for Petzel’s claim? Now is not the time for carefully crafted press releases. Sec. Shinseki needs to answer these questions publicly, and he needs to answer them now.” – Rep. Jeff Miller, Chairman, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs

HVAC Webpage To Track How VA Stonewalls the Press

Mar 24, 2014
WASHINGTON, D.C.— Today, Chairman Jeff Miller launched VA Honesty Project, a new web component of Veterans.House.Gov designed to highlight the Department of Veterans Affairs’ lack of transparency with the press, and by extension the public. View the page here.
Because the Department of Veterans Affairs is a taxpayer funded organization, it has a responsibility to fully explain itself to the press and the public. Unfortunately, in many cases, VA is failing in this responsibility, as department officials – including 54 full-time public affairs employees – routinely ignore media inquiries.
VA Honesty Project documents nearly 70 recent instances in which VA has failed to respond to reporters’ requests for information or refused to answer specific questions. The department’s apparent disregard for the press has become an object of reporters’ scorn, leading some to openly accuse VA of “thumbing their nose at us” and others to write entire articles focusing on VA’s stonewalling tactics. VA Honesty Project will be continually updated with new examples of VA refusing to respond to the press as they arise.
Following the launch of VA Honesty Project, Chairman Miller issued the following statement.
“With 54 full-time public affairs employees, VA’s media avoidance strategy can’t be anything other than intentional. What’s worse, the tactic leaves the impression that department leaders think the same taxpayers who fund the department don’t deserve an explanation of VA’s conduct. VA Honesty Project is dedicated to showing America’s veterans, American taxpayers and department leaders how VA’s media avoidance strategy is doing the public an extreme disservice while damaging VA’s reputation in the process. By keeping a running record of VA’s attempts to stonewall the press, we hope to convince the department to put a renewed focus on being responsive and transparent with the media so America’s veterans and taxpayers can get the answers they deserve.” – Rep. Jeff Miller, Chairman, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs

Note: This is probably the longest post I have made. If you want to see how the VA stonewalls the public, the veterans and even the government that is alleged to regulate them, go to the first link in the last article and it will make you sick. Absolutely no accountability.  It's also here : View the page here 
If this doesn't make you wonder about how an agency has run amok with no accountability to the public, the veterans it serves or the government body that oversees it, it's simply unthinkable. As a disabled vet, I could tell you stories but I won't, preferring to say much of my dealings with the VA have been exemplary, while others have bordered on what I consider criminally negligent in inception of timely treatment. The vets get excuses on why a severe issue is not handled and in the interim, they get worse and die. Then the VA has to do nothing, one less patient to see. Granted they are overloaded with patients, some as a result of their grandiose offer to provide 5 years of free medical treatment to the vets from the War on Terrorism. None of the other wartime vets received that, we either had to have a disability and some waited years to gain medical status, or had to pay for VA treatment based on income. I can understand any vet from any conflict with a disability receiving free treatment. But to globally offer free treatment for 5 years with no disability requirements was simply to immediately overload the system and place the older vets on the back burner to accommodate the new influx of cases. Does that lengthen the appointment process? Sure it does. I used to see a specialty doc every three months. Now I'm lucky to see one every 9 months to a year. He might tell me "I'll see you back here in 3 months, but somehow it gets kicked out of the system and I have to call or e-mail and ask for an appointment which may be months down the road, then be cancelled and longer yet. And I'm one of those like a bulldog who keeps on their ass until I get action. I pity the vets without the skills or will to keep fighting the system or an advocate who will. And NOT the patient advocates at the VA hospitals. From my experience, they are seat warmers and useless. 
Finally, I have to agree with Mr. Miller...the VA promotes to the highest level; of incompetence. I have seen that happen at least once this past year. I called and asked for a supervisor, being sure he would have been fired by now as he appeared to be so incompetent. Nope. He was promoted to manager and they are looking for a new supervisor; yet his department still cannot get things right. Amazingly, although the VA promulgates forms on line for the veterans to use, the VAMC's then state the forms are no good and they use their own forms to make it more difficult on the vets to use the system. What ever works for the employees and screws the vets must be the name of the game. And those in Washington are not aware as they are sleeping at the switch! 

Monday, April 28, 2014

The Phoenix VA - Death by the Numbers...

(CNN) -- At least 40 U.S. veterans died waiting for appointments at the Phoenix Veterans Affairs Health Care system, many of whom were placed on a secret waiting list.

The secret list was part of an elaborate scheme designed by Veterans Affairs managers in Phoenix who were trying to hide that 1,400 to 1,600 sick veterans were forced to wait months to see a doctor, according to a recently retired top VA doctor and several high-level sources.
For six months, CNN has been reporting on extended delays in health care appointments suffered by veterans across the country and who died while waiting for appointments and care. But the new revelations about the Phoenix VA are perhaps the most disturbing and striking to come to light thus far.
Internal e-mails obtained by CNN show that top management at the VA hospital in Arizona knew about the practice and even defended it.
Dr. Sam Foote just retired after spending 24 years with the VA system in Phoenix. The veteran doctor told CNN in an exclusive interview that the Phoenix VA works off two lists for patient appointments:
There's an "official" list that's shared with officials in Washington and shows the VA has been providing timely appointments, which Foote calls a sham list. And then there's the real list that's hidden from outsiders, where wait times can last more than a year.

Veterans dying waiting for healthcare

Are we fulfilling our promise to veterans?
Deliberate scheme, shredded evidence
"The scheme was deliberately put in place to avoid the VA's own internal rules," said Foote in Phoenix. "They developed the secret waiting list," said Foote, a respected local physician.
The VA requires its hospitals to provide care to patients in a timely manner, typically within 14 to 30 days, Foote said.
According to Foote, the elaborate scheme in Phoenix involved shredding evidence to hide the long list of veterans waiting for appointments and care. Officials at the VA, Foote says, instructed their staff to not actually make doctor's appointments for veterans within the computer system.
Instead, Foote says, when a veteran comes in seeking an appointment, "they enter information into the computer and do a screen capture hard copy printout. They then do not save what was put into the computer so there's no record that you were ever here," he said.
According to Foote, the information was gathered on the secret electronic list and then the information that would show when veterans first began waiting for an appointment was actually destroyed.
"That hard copy, if you will, that has the patient demographic information is then taken and placed onto a secret electronic waiting list, and then the data that is on that paper is shredded," Foote said.
"So the only record that you have ever been there requesting care was on that secret list," he said. "And they wouldn't take you off that secret list until you had an appointment time that was less than 14 days so it would give the appearance that they were improving greatly the waiting times, when in fact they were not."
I feel very sorry for the people who work at the Phoenix VA. They all wish they could leave 'cause they know what they're doing is wrong.

Dr. Sam Foote
Foote estimates right now the number of veterans waiting on the "secret list" to see a primary care physician is somewhere between 1,400 and 1,600.
Doctor: It's a 'frustrated' staff
"I feel very sorry for the people who work at the Phoenix VA," said Foote. "They're all frustrated. They're all upset. They all wish they could leave 'cause they know what they're doing is wrong.
"But they have families, they have mortgages and if they speak out or say anything to anybody about it, they will be fired and they know that."
Several other high-level VA staff confirmed Foote's description to CNN and confirmed this is exactly how the secret list works in Phoenix.
Foote says the Phoenix wait times reported back to Washington were entirely fictitious. "So then when they did that, they would report to Washington, 'Oh yeah. We're makin' our appointments within -- within 10 days, within the 14-day frame,' when in reality it had been six, nine, in some cases 21 months," he said.
Thomas Breen was so proud of his time in the Navy that he wanted to be treated only at a VA facility, his family says.
Thomas Breen was so proud of his time in the Navy that he wanted to be treated only at a VA facility, his family says.
In the case of 71-year-old Navy veteran Thomas Breen, the wait on the secret list ended much sooner.
"We had noticed that he started to have bleeding in his urine," said Teddy Barnes-Breen, his son. "So I was like, 'Listen, we gotta get you to the doctor.' "
Teddy says his Brooklyn-raised father was so proud of his military service that he would go nowhere but the VA for treatment. On September 28, 2013, with blood in his urine and a history of cancer, Teddy and his wife, Sally, rushed his father to the Phoenix VA emergency room, where he was examined and sent home to wait.
"They wrote on his chart that it was urgent," said Sally, her father-in-law's main caretaker. The family has obtained the chart from the VA that clearly states the "urgency" as "one week" for Breen to see a primary care doctor or at least a urologist, for the concerns about the blood in the urine.
"And they sent him home," says Teddy, incredulously.
Sally and Teddy say Thomas Breen was given an appointment with a rheumatologist to look at his prosthetic leg but was given no appointment for the main reason he went in.
The Breens wait ... and wait ... and wait ...
No one called from the VA with a primary care appointment. Sally says she and her father-in-law called "numerous times" in an effort to try to get an urgent appointment for him. She says the response they got was less than helpful.
"Well, you know, we have other patients that are critical as well," Sally says she was told. "It's a seven-month waiting list. And you're gonna have to have patience."
Sally says she kept calling, day after day, from late September to October. She kept up the calls through November. But then she no longer had reason to call.
Thomas Breen died on November 30. The death certificate shows that he died from Stage 4 bladder cancer. Months after the initial visit, Sally says she finally did get a call.
"They called me December 6. He's dead already."
Sally says the VA official told her, "We finally have that appointment. We have a primary for him.' I said, 'Really, you're a little too late, sweetheart.' "
At the end is when he suffered. He screamed. He cried.

Sally Brenn on the death of her father-in-law
Sally says her father-in-law realized toward the end he was not getting the care he needed.
"At the end is when he suffered. He screamed. He cried. And that's somethin' I'd never seen him do before, was cry. Never. Never. He cried in the kitchen right here. 'Don't let me die.' "
Teddy added his father said: "Why is this happening to me? Why won't anybody help me?"
Teddy added: "They didn't do the right thing." Sally said: "No. They neglected Pop."
First hidden -- and then removed
Foote says Breen is a perfect example of a veteran who needed an urgent appointment with a primary doctor and who was instead put on the secret waiting list -- where he remained hidden.
Foote adds that when veterans waiting on the secret list die, they are simply removed.
"They could just remove you from that list, and there's no record that you ever came to the VA and presented for care. ... It's pretty sad."
Foote said that the number of dead veterans who died waiting for care is at least 40.
"That's correct. The number's actually higher. ... I would say that 40, there's more than that that I know of, but 40's probably a good number."
CNN has obtained e-mails from July 2013 showing that top management, including Phoenix VA Director Sharon Helman, was well-aware about the actual wait times, knew about the electronic off-the-books list and even defended its use to her staff.
I think it's unfair to call any of this a success when Veterans are waiting 6 weeks on an electronic waiting list
From 2013 Phoenix VA e-mail obtained by CNN
In one internal Phoenix VA e-mail dated July 3, 2013, one staffer raised concerns about the secret electronic list and raised alarms that Phoenix VA officials were praising its use.
"I have to say, I think it's unfair to call any of this a success when Veterans are waiting 6 weeks on an electronic waiting list before they're called to schedule their first PCP (primary care physician) appointment," the e-mail states. "Sure, when their appointment is created, it can be 14 days out, but we're making them wait 6-20 weeks to create that appointment."
The e-mail adds pointedly: "That is unethical and a disservice to our Veterans."
Last year and earlier this year, Foote also sent letters to officials at the VA Office of the Inspector General with details about the secret electronic waiting list and about the large number of veterans who died waiting for care, many hidden on the secret list. Foote and several other sources inside the Phoenix VA confirmed to CNN that IG inspectors have interviewed them about the allegations.
VA: 'It is disheartening to hear allegations'
CNN has made numerous requests to Helman and her staff for an interview about the secret list, the e-mails showing she was aware of it and the allegations of the 40 veterans who died waiting on the list, to no avail.
But CNN was sent a statement from VA officials in Texas, quoting Helman.
"It is disheartening to hear allegations about Veterans care being compromised," the statement from Helman reads, "and we are open to any collaborative discussion that assists in our goal to continually improve patient care."
Just before deadline Wednesday, the VA sent an additional comment to CNN.
It stated, in part: "We have conducted robust internal reviews since these allegations surfaced and welcome the results from the Office of Inspector General's review. We take these allegations seriously."
The VA statement to CNN added: "To ensure new Veterans waiting for appointments are managed appropriately, we maintain an Electronic Wait List (EWL) in accordance with the national VHA Scheduling Directive. The ability of new and established patients to get more timely care has showed significant improvement in the last two years which is attributable to increased budget, staffing, efficiency and infrastructure."
Foote says Helman's response in the first statement is stunning, explaining the entire secret list and the reason for its existence was planned and created by top management at the Phoenix VA, specifically to avoid detection of the long wait times by veterans there.
"This was a plan that involved the Pentad, which includes the director, the associate director, the assistant director, the chief of nursing, along with the medical chief of staff -- in collaboration with the chief of H.A.S."
Washington is paying attention
The Phoenix VA's "off the books" waiting list has now gotten the attention of the U.S. House Veterans Affairs Committee in Washington, whose chairman has been investigating delays in care at veterans hospitals across the country.
According to Rep. Jeff Miller, chairman of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs, what was happening in Phoenix is even worse than veterans dying while waiting for care.
Even as CNN was working to report this story, the Florida Republican demanded the VA preserve all records in anticipation of a congressional investigation.
In a hearing on April 9, Miller learned even the undersecretary of health for the VA wasn't being told the truth about the secret list:
"It appears as though there could be as many as 40 veterans whose deaths could be related to delays in care. Were you made aware of these unofficial lists in any part of your look back?" asked Miller.
"Mr. Chairman, I was not," replied Dr. Thomas Lynch, assistant deputy undersecretary, Veterans Health Administration.
Congress has now ordered all records in Phoenix, secret or not, be preserved.
That would include the record of a 71-year-old Navy veteran named Thomas Breen.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

PayPal - You May Be Surprised How Your Money Can Be Trapped!

If you place an order with a merchant who accepts PayPal outside of eBay, and the merchant does not immediately accept your payment, the payment can hang in "limbo" for up to 30 days while the merchant decides whether to accept your payment or not. I was totally unaware merchants had the ability to accept, place payments on hold or reject payments at will. Another screwing for the consumer I suppose!

As ridiculous as this sounds, take the case of a consumer who orders an in stock jacket from an on-line store who operates a chain of  multiple stores. He pays with his PayPal balance (cash in his PayPal account) and notes the amount on PayPal is shown as an "Authorization" rather than a payment and "Pending". Using the "Live Chat" feature on the web site after a few days, he finds out that although the item is purported to be in stock, the store that does the selling can't find the item as it's supposedly at one of their other stores and they apparently are not sure which one. (incidentally, calling their toll free number is useless since they do not answer and do not return calls either)

PayPal now states the standard operating practice for some merchants is to not accept the PayPal amount until the item is actually found and shipped, no matter how long that takes, up to 30 days. And during that time, no matter how much you need your order, you can't cancel or get your money back, because the merchant has you by the ass until they decide to release the money or ship the item. Which could take several weeks after the 30 days if they drag it to the end. And all this time, PayPal has taken the money out of your account so you can't use it and is holding it for that merchant who isn't doing you a bit of good either.

Imagine a $500 or $1000 order or a Christmas or Birthday present being handled like this? Or an item that will be out of season before you get it. (I think this could happen to will be 90 here this week!)

The caveat is DO NOT PAY MERCHANTS WITH PAYPAL unless you are using eBay where you have buyer protection and there is a stipulated shipping time on the sale. If you must use PayPal, only use your credit card for payment so you can refute the charge. DO NOT USE YOUR PAYPAL BALANCE!  In fact, just bypass PayPal completely and go right to the merchant with the credit card. In that way if they don't ship in a timely fashion, you can refute the charge immediately with your credit card company. The PayPal buyer protection is useless in this sort of case if you use your PayPal balance and can't refute the charge on your credit card.

UPDATE: The merchant found the item and was so nice as to ship it second day air at no extra charge due to the extended wait time. They had been in inventory so the phones were not being monitored properly and the merchandise was not easily found. That had to check all 40 plus store locations and it ended up being at the last store (isn't that the usual luck?) and then it took three days to get it shipped out. Facts are had I not sent e-mails and called and left messages, I feel this might still remain unresolved.

The caveat still holds. Use PayPal with your credit card unless you are using your balance on eBay.It's your decide who gets to hold it, not PayPal!