VA Employees ASPEN

An email circulated yesterday, sent by the AFGE Union to Philadelphia VA employees, warned employees of an investigation into too much work versus not enough.

Given VA’s present shift in focus from being rules fixated to being principles focused, this present audit may be a sign that high-level decisionmakers within VA are resistant to change. Instead, they are apparently fixated on the old system that has repeatedly failed.

ASPEN is the repugnant system that forces VA employees to process claims quickly rather than performing a quality job investigating the claim. What results are many employees either gaming the system by picking only easy cases or employees gaming the system.

RELATED: VA Workers Rewarded For Avoiding Hard Disability Claims

Insiders have long critiqued the system, originally designed by Diana Rubens and friends, because it forces employees to cut corners or risk termination.

Since claims adjudication takes at least 3 years to develop proficiency, the result is many new employees get pushed out of the system for being unable to process claims quick enough. And, veterans who deserve a favorable outcome get wrongfully denied benefits.

The end result is a ballooning appeals system with veterans dying without the benefits they are entitled to.

Now, with that in mind, read the below email from union representatives warning VA employees of an ASPEN audit.

Since the quota for claims processing is quite high and difficult to meet given the complexity of many claims, employees have resorted to working longer hours or on weekends.

The act of working additional hours to meet one’s quota is apparently not allowed, and the new audit is allegedly aimed at catching some VA employees who are putting in extra hours to help process claims.

How is that for an answer to the claims and appeals backlogs?

AFGE Union ASPEN Email Warning

Subject: Fact Finding Investigation on ASPEN Entries
Importance: High
 

PMC Union Members,

The Union has been advised by PMC Management that they are going to be conducting a fact finding investigation into misrepresented ASPEN entries. 

Shawn Spotts and Diane Keller have been designated as the Management Officials conducting this fact finding investigation.  

All affected employees will be advised of their right to have Union representation prior to any meetings taking place.  

Please understand that there is a potential for disciplinary actions to be initiated based on the results of this fact finding. 

Please understand that there is a potential for your performance statistics to be negatively changed based on the results of this fact finding.   If so, this could put you in a failed performance situation.   If so, then you could be denied a With In Grade Increase (WIGI), lose out on any potential promotions, and be placed on a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP).   

The Union strongly encourages you to use us if you are notified that you are the subject of this fact finding investigation.   You should not attempt to handle this on your own.  

I don’t have any more details about this systematic attack on employees by PMC Management.   If and when I do, I will let you know.  

Joe Malizia

President, AFGE Local 940

So what does this mean? Are VA employees about to get slammed for meeting an impossible quota by working too many hours?

Or, is there an investigation into some kind of fraud yet to be disclosed?

115 COMMENTS

  1. From the union email, it sounds like someone other than the union is doing an invetigation. Sounds like the union is warning it’s members to not be part of the investigation without a union rep present. I have no idea what this sounds like. It makes no sence if there is an investigation under way, over employee’s working the hours needed to get claims through that everyone is complaining isn’t getting done quick enough. I think they need to be even quicker. So really who is the one with the problem, over employees trying to get the backlog taken care of? I am not getting it this time around. Maybe it’s over my head. Only fraud I could see is if they didn’t really work the hours claimed. and someone is trying to fudge the books so they can say “see we are even putting in extra hours to work on claims” when they really aren’t……….I have no idea…

    • @cj, it is not over your head. It is hard to understand because the va system is so corrupted. You can’t believe it even when you see it firsthand like i did. It is like the cruelty inflicted was beyond what i would think a human being would possibly do to another. The va has such damaged individuals in it and they sit and have meetings on how they can come up with lies to explain the damaging data that becomes uncovered by someone who is asking questions by some data research big consultant corporation that is most likely contracted out.

      • THIS AFGE UNION CRAP AINT PASSING THE SMELL TEST VETS !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! FRAUD FOR SURE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • No doubt there is some kind of fraud going on, it’s the damn va and the afge………………it is common place, like you said “Some kind of fraud yet to be determined” The bullshit never ends, everyone is taken care of, and everyone has representation, except the veterans. You know…………those pesky veterans who this entire agency came into exsistence to service. But doesn’t Now I am getting pissed off again, and I don’t even know why this time. Just thinking about the damn va makes my blood boil……..damn them all to hell. Corrupt, thieving, lying, filthy, self serving, inconsiderate, gutter licking, shit sucking, murderers. I hope they all burn in hell, or at least die the same death, as the veterans that died because of them. No that would be too good for them, they need to die a very slow, painfull death, like an inoperable twin tumor, one in their colon, and one in the throat, and I hope a va nurse steals their pain meds, scheduals them to see a doctor in a few years, and hints that they might be better off if they just killed themselves. I’d like to take toothpicks and stick em right into their damn eyeballs, with flamming marshmallows hanging off the ends for effect…………………………

    • Cj, to put it in a nutshell…

      2 managers will be auditing how fast claims are adjudicated, and how many hours are spent on claims and determining whether the data they have is factual as compared with “ASPEN” data.

      Without knowing more, it appears as if the investigation is into the ASPEN data being falsified.

      With that said…

      Who benefits from that data being falsified is not shown.

      I cannot see disciplinary action taken such as withholding a pay raise as anything other than punishment for wrong doing.

      A PIP isn’t used for punishment, but for training when an employees performance makes clear they are not performing up to their job standards.

      Clearly someone believes the ASPEN data does not match the time spent, or the overtime spent on claims.

      The unions sole concern here is to protect against any kind of action against an employee.

      It should be clear to anyone reading this that a veteran is not a concern here whatsoever. Their claim is not a concern, getting adjudicated as service connected and getting health care is not a concern. Getting an accurately rated claim is not a concern.

      As is typical of the VA, a veteran does not even enter the picture with this issue.

      • @91 Veteran; Thank you, I was confused before I jumped of the cliff there. I agree with your observations. I think that is why I decided to jump off the cliff, knowing in this yet another mess, it’s cover your ass, and to hell with the veteran. Can you just imagine, if everyday it was something else, with a private sector national hospital chain? They wouldn’t last 6 months before being shut down. Just fed up with the entire lot.

    • Cover up simple and veteran’s will pay the price. Many of you say you Will never go to the VA Any more.

      You may have just saved your own lives. Bad employees must be stopped and fired or put into jail.

      Makes me so mad. That the union is assisting in wrongdoing. They should have told the employees if anything. Any employee found to be in the wrong will have to pay for their misdeeds.

      It’s getting worse not better

  2. I didn’t see any quota on any employee in the va medical center where i worked. If i was to make a comparison it would be that they turned in overtime on special projects and special funding that was not warranted. They would do nothing for hours to get overtime in, so it looked like they were working and was not necessary to hire more employees. Because they were so willing to do the overtime.

    There are so many schemes in play in the va system that it truly takes time to understand really what is being done and how it can be manipulated. I had privy to some of the operations on the clinical side and financial side. I consistently saw corruption where ever i looked and it was not a purposeful act most times i came across the corruption by accidental observance. My supervisor to cover his six wanted me to explain processes and procedures with flow charts and possible solutions. He was not there to facilitate change even though he was the care lines operation manager, he was there for self preservation and the protection of the system. He deflected the heat from front office because of knowledge of events he became aware of and when he landed in hot water he of course was taken care of.

    The average employee will be put on a performance improvement plan before any negative outcome can be on record. They rarely do this to an employee. Sounds like an investigation of fraud or wrongdoings. They threaten employees so as to keep their mouth shut. IMHO.

    • The Incentive Pay/Quota bonus, was established to encourage employees to resolve x amount of claims per quarter, to reduce the claims backlog.

      • …and without any kind of check on accuracy, it does little more than increase the appeals backlog.

      • @Ex va: Hey Ex va, doing okay, thank you, how are you? Ex va, I realized I never actually gave you that recipe you asked me for, so if your ready to copy and paste. I will post it up for you.

  3. It wouldn’t take an Einstein to or very much time to find the overtime. Why the warning? Will there be a Valid Veteran at these hearings? The whole thing sounds phoney. Since when does the AFGE care, unless the AFGE has been threatened somehow. I’m just sick of this s h I t.

    • The AFGE is as useless as TITS ON A BULL! You pay to join and they don’t represent shit! The AFGE rep that I worked with was in bed w/mgmt!

      • The VA Experimental Genetics Labs are working tirelessly to clone a grafted tits on a bull then once sort of successful, the VA gender reassignment surgical experiments shall proceed. Dine Rubens may or may not have been an early experimental prototype before the bulls. 🙂

      • That has been very clear by the number of whistle blowers, cases of retaliation and those fired before their probation is up.

  4. This does not surprise me at all. Why? Because in my life experience in working at union represented workplaces; from heavy mining & milling operations to UPS unloading semi trucks and what both situations had in common even though completely different unions is fact no union personnel will do any more work than required.
    I learned that giving your 110% was NOT ALLOWED at a union represented workplace. Why? Because they have contracts that specifically say what they will and will not do and even overtime has it’s stipulations with union critters. I was told, “If you continue to do such a great and efficient job you are going to make all the other union workers LOOK BAD”….yep, I could basically do everything my shift required of me in HALF of that time but could be FIRED for being too efficient…because the union claimed it would make other workers LOOK BAD if I was giving my 110%. Sounds unbelievable but assure you all it’s true and cannot imagine the AFGE to be any different.
    Matter-in-fact, the AFGE probably sees all those Veteran Claims as sick job security and view it as if they do this too efficiently, even if overtime is required to bring the backlog down, the union will cry the union workers are working too hard….never mind the Veteran sleeping inside a dumpster or the woods while waiting on that damn VA Service Connection Claim and cannot get any VA healthcare until awarded a claim %….meanwhile, that union critter has earned a performance bonus that would feed that same Veteran for an entire year with change to spare eating conservatively.
    Something smells of a rat in the wood pile here. I say this also because this is Diane Rubens country and seems like nothing positively good comes out of that VISN.
    Does this mean the AFGE VA Union Workers are about to fire-up the industrial shredders again to eliminate the need for overtime and again, never mind that Veteran that slept in the dumpster waiting on that claim to be processed by the poor overworked union piggy.
    Hey, maybe this will have the cause/effect of the AFGE threatening to STRIKE, then President Trump can pull a Pres. Reagan union busting trick out of his bag and exclaim to the AFGE….YOU’RE FIRED and NEVER COME BACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • @namnibor: Oh yes, I forgot about all that bs. “what are you trying to work yourself out of a job?” “Slow down your makeing the rest of us look bad” “piece work is not allowed” and my favorite “why should I work any harder then the laziest person? they make the same as I do” Your spot on as usuall.

    • Hey Guys; I received a survey from the Republican National Committee 2 days ago. Question #5 is as follows;
      “Should President Trump issue an Executive Order to suspend government unions so that his Administration can quickly move to fire federal employees found to be unnecessary, incompetent, or unresponsive to their mission of serving the American people.” My vote was a resounding YES! I sure hope that the AFGE votes to strike. It would nice to see Trump give them the Ronald Reagan treatment. I’m afraid I wont be around to see it. You see, my transplanted liver has going bad, I have not 1, not 2, but 3 different types of cancer. The MFers are killing me. God bless and keep up the good fight.

      • @Ralph D Carmona Sr: Mr. Carmona, I am sorry to hear of your health issues, and pray you live the rest of your life, as a happy man, surrounded by those that love you. I hope you live a painless, very long life. God Bless.

  5. Ben…
    I’ve been saying this ALL ALONG…That VA employees are highly pressured by Mgmt to perform, so that the RO receives “Incentive Pay/quota Bonus” if they acheive certain goals RE: resolution of claims.

    By offering this package, the more complex, multi volume claims folders are bypassed and the skinnier folders are resolved expeditiously.
    This has been a problem since I worked at the VARO in NC (2002).

    Overtime was ALWAYS offered & encouraged by mgmt., just so they can collect that “Bonus”.

    I ALSO complained about the amount of “Pot Lucks & Retirement parties” held DURING business hours. This party atmosphere just takes away from resolving Veterans claims.
    IGNORED!

    • Bruce, I was informed, many years ago, to “…only put in one claim at a time!” Because, the larger claim’s folders are “…PASSED OVER for the easier ones!” Exactly what you’ve stated here.
      I was also informed, these individuals “…received monies for denying claims!” That was told to me by a person of importance, (high up in the VA), in Illinois about 12 years ago.
      Could this be part of the scam?

      • @Crazy elf: I assure you the practice continues to this day. I was sent to Hines va for my c+p exam. Everyone involved agreed I had a service connected TBI, even their own TBI examiner. Then out of the blue I get a call to setup another c+p exam for depression related to my service connected TBI. I never put in for depression, and was told to never miss an exam. This shrink brought up everything under the sun, and then used every single symtom of a TBI do deny that TBI claim…..Drug and alcohol abuse, although they have urine samples and blood tests going back about 43 years and can’t point to a single test to back that claim of abuse. Drug and alcohol abuse is a sign of TBI. Then the quack used a personality disorder, and possible ear infection as causes of symtoms of a TBI. Then stated that since I got into trouble once, and used a lawyer to get out of it, that I must be lying about the TBI. Bonus for her. This is the same shrink I found on the internet to have complaints against her when she was in private practice. She took too many pain pills and fell asleep, she didn’t even know her patients got up and walked out, Another complaint said she pitted husband against wife, and when the wife walked out she made the comment to the husband, “I see what you mean about her” and started laughing. Also looking at what she treats, TBI is not on the list. A typical va quack that denies claims for bonus money. I can’t wait to get her incompetent ass in front of a judge. Her 15 minute evalluation against my qualified TBI care providers 500 plus hours of observation, testing, and data. The va worker behind the desk when I got there, tried to warn me, I didn’t realize it till after this all took place. I wish I was more alert at the time and pick up on what he was saying to me. I was not myself that day, the stress of a long drive, chest pains, back pain, and general stress just having to deal with these people clouded my judgement. But the bonuses are still being payed for denials.

      • Cj, another reason to diagnose depression as opposed to TBI is the easy ability to blame it on anything other than service which means service connection is denied, whereas a diagnosis of TBI is treated much differently and much more expensively than just giving you a pill.

        On the one hand they can deny service connection which won’t cost them a dime. On the other, TBI would be service connected costing them whatever disability rating they gave, plus whatever cost of treatment over your lifetime.

        Unless they blame your TBI on a childhood injury…which ignores the fact that you were once deemed healthy enough after that claimed injury to enter military service.

      • @91 Veteran: Agreed. Funny thing though, they never used depression as an excuse to deny the claim. Infact, depression never came up at all in the discussion. Yet that is what the c+p was supose to be for……….

  6. [email protected]

    Looks like the swamp is not just in Washington but has spread all over the country side

    • Any VAMC in the 50 States or various territories are satellite swamp locations. They spread that shit like hot butter across these United States. That’s why the VA has a “systemic” problem, the entire network has been compromised by greedy rats.

      If the AFGE Union were to be our U.S. Military force over in active wars in middle east, the AFGE would limit the # of bullets each employee could use in any given day and any extra bullets would have to be given to the enemy unused to ensure the lengthiness of job security of said war for the union piggies….that’s an analogy of how the VA has been compromised.

  7. I have very little to add to what everyone else has said. Except maybe, I gotta real good feeling about this. Sounds like we’re going to see more come out of this! Possibly a real good fraud, waste and abuse case against VA employees in the upper management arena!
    “cj” stated exactly how I feel about these FUCK-UPS.

    namnibor, I hope the union does have their employees STRIKE! It would settle lots of problems. Only, do you think David “Little” Cox will allow it?
    If I remember correctly, it was up in Cleveland last year when some VHA employees did strike. To let the public know about the poor medical conditions veterans were subjected to! Never heard anymore about that.

    We’ve all heard of the witch Rubens. For some reason I’ve heard of Shawn Sports & Diane Keller before in Ben’s Blog’s! Just can’t seem to remember why their names are familiar!?!?!

    Guess we’re going to have to wait and see!

    • @Crazy elf– I try to be really up on all that’s going on, esp. in my own State, and although I do not doubt what you said about some VHA union workers striking up in Cleveland, it never made my local news here in Columbus and if it had, I surely would have forwarded the link to Benjamin…unless of course it simply slid under my radar. If you find a link please post. No luck here, but as we know, the VA’s Public Affairs is very efficient at scrubbing the news.
      The national news never even took the story about a Veteran here just South of Columbus last year that called the VA’s Suicide Hotline and because the VA hack on other end thought that Veteran had said “concerning words”, she called the local police and SWAT Team…he was shot in front of his house several times in front of his wife and kids…fucked-up…kept efficiently out of the news other than local blip…crickets.

      • namnibor.
        I’ll look for that article/video from Cleveland. I believe I, or Seymore, put it on here.

  8. To all,
    From;
    “Military.com/Daily News
    via: “Stars and Stripes”
    by; Nikki Wentling
    dated; 8 Mar 2017
    titled;

    “VA to Provide Mental Health Care to Vets with ‘Bad Paper’ Discharges”

    Although I see this as great news. How about all the veterans with “Honorable Discharges” who can’t get in to see anyone in the mental health clinics!!!!!!
    Especially those veterans who may be contemplating suicide?!?!?! WTF VA!

    • That’s just the VA Meat Grinder assuring ample warm bodies are fed into the swamp, ensuring job security for the AFGE Union swamp beasts.
      I think the AFGE Union is going to push for more hiring now in lieu of working overtime, which still does nothing to increase productivity if they are henpecking which claim files are easiest for performance bonus reasons.
      The “bad paper discharges” are simply low-hanging fruit for the VA. It’s not about helping Vets. $$$$$$$

      • Nam, your comment triggered a thought, perhaps somebody with VA employment experience can provide some detail on how claims raters work.

        If the VA wanted to cut down on the backlog, cut down on overtime and any number of other things related to cost of adjudicating claims, why not have adjudicators that are specialized according to their experience?

        Just as Ortho doctors (except VA) don’t do neurosurgery or psychiatry, why do claims raters think they can be experienced enough in all areas of Title 38 handling all medical conditions?

        If raters were specialized, you could have new raters handle one area such as Ortho, one handle Internal Med, another handle mental health until they gained more experience.

        In that manner, you could have new raters quickly handle simple claims, or rate the section they have experience in before handing it off to another rater. As each rater gained experience in Title 38 and handling claims, they could handle more than one area, with the most experienced handling the most difficult claims, but also being the highest paid.

        And every one of them having their accuracy tracked.

        The incentive is that they get to keep their job, or go flip burgers.

        The other way to resolve this is that every claim is date stamped once it is received at the VARO, and claims are handled according to when they came in. That would eliminate the cherry-picking.

        Or they could see how other agencies handle those claims like Social Security.

      • @91Veteran– I have a feeling a lot of those claim raters were doing jobs such as roofing and flipping burgers before some AFGE hack relative at the VA got the idiot a job at the VA and at the VA, all it takes for anyone to be qualified for anything is…a Powerpoint Presentation or two or three. Presto! You are a Pharmacist! Presto! You are now a claim adjudicator specialized in pharmacology! Sham Wow! 🙂 🙂

  9. Time to form a “VETERAN’S UNION”. Since the employees have the right to representation in any meeting, and the VA has representation, time that we, the VETERANS have representation. We have as much a right to be at that table as anyone, if not more.

    What do you say Ben? Can you figure out the legalities of forming such a union? You should have enough following by now who can join and spread the word.

      • I don’t want to be the killjoy here, but, unions are specifically for labor forces. They are for employee representation to govern saftey, and fair pay in the workforce. I can’t see how you could form a union to represint veterans. In a perfect world it is the job of the useless VSO’s to represent the veteran. I think what you need is a veterans non-profit foundation, and you would need impecable people at the top to be the board of directors. People like Ben, J Sekulov, Trey gowdy. Think along these lines and you will have formed one of the most powerful foundations in the world. You do realize soldiers and veterans around the entire world are facing the same bs that we are? Can you imagine? The International Foundation for Veterans Rights. Now that has a nice ring to it. Ha……I commented without swearing!!!

      • No they are called VSOs. And why shouldn’t the “consumer” have a seat at the table on “safety” issues the way other consumer organizations did. Remember the Pinto and the Beetle. Or maybe you are too young.

      • @Lem: I didn’t write the laws, I just had to follow them as an employer. The rules can easily be found at the NLRB’s website. Your argument is with them, not me. It would seem veterans would need legal help, not labor laws.

      • So time to change. Get a job writing laws.

        The veteran’s problem is too many “VSO’s” and too little representation. A divide and conquer system. Just a few veterans setting themselves up to draw more than the Secretary in addition to being able to get 100% for a barked shin. Check out the compensation on your favorite VSO.

      • @Lem: Exactly what would a Ford Pinto, or a Volkswagon Bettle have to do with a veteran labor union? Your not making sence. Again, Unions are for labor issues only. How would labor issues help veterans in any shape or form? You need a non profit foundation to help veterans with legal issues and to be represented at the so called table.

      • Sorry you are so young or you would know who was able to get something done and who isn’t. Call Ralph.

      • I agree that all you need to look at what would potentially become of any “Veteran Union” is look at the three piggy VSO’s. Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely. (or something along those lines)
        The VSO’s **used to be** we Veteran’s (sort of) representatives, but as well know or should already know from experience, the major VSO’s seem to only be serve-serving in their self-preservation…and in bed with the VA and AFGE….absolutely corrupt….no, we Veterans are so diverse of a population and strong-willed and minded, I realistically do not see pooling all Veterans under one large umbrella of representation…without the usual labor force and then those pesky membership dues that would be required…then once that pile of $$$ reaches critical mass, next thing you know a few dozen hookers and a Los Vegas conference…all over….no, I think we are whittling away at the corruption just fine with the disinfecting qualities of sunlight of truth on corruption.
        Unions seem to only tighten bonds of corruption, absolutely.

      • Namnibor, You are correct in what you describe in how things would turn out.

        Veterans ARE strong willed and minded.

        When I was working with a veterans non-profit I helped found some years ago, it was amazing how many opinions were offered as things we should focus on, but how few would volunteer to manage that issue. It’s not that every issue offered was not a valid issue to focus on, but there were only so many veterans willing to do the work, and most was done on a shoe-string budget.

        There have been several calls on here for a national march on Washington. You would need a group of veterans to plan that, or just nothing more than picking a date. Once a date was picked, there would be offers of other dates that would be better, or complaints of why a date would not work. Once a date was agreed on, then a place to meet would be decided. There would be offers of other places to meet, or complaints of why the place that was picked was wrong. Once that was decided, there would be discussion of transportation, hotels, etc., with helpful suggestions for each, and complaints of each decision made.

        What would be the objective? To just march and hope the media covers it? To walk the halls of congress trying to find your representative or Senator to meet with them? To march on VA HQ? To block streets? All would have offers of something better, and complaints.

        In the end, you might end up with a large group who each might just do their own thing, and an equally or larger group of veterans that are PO’d because their suggestion was not followed. So they stayed home.

        ALL of it would have to be funded by the veterans themselves because we don’t have an individual with deep pockets that would help with donations like the left does with Soros.

    • The VA and congress would already claim we have representation, and point to the VSO’s as evidence.

      Unfortunately, they would not be able to point to much success with evidence.

  10. namnibor,
    google;

    “VA employees protest against veterans healthcare”

    There’s many articles on this issue from last year, starting around the month of June (26)!
    Some of the articles are saying it’s a STRIKE.
    Of course, this would be during the Obamination Administration. So, it wasn’t as widespread in the media!
    Plus, since it was mainly about the VA NOT wanting “privatization”, and the union backing the employees, one would expect it to not be broadcasted!

    I’m still looking up that “protest” by VHA employees in Cleveland. I’m pretty sure I, or Seymore, put the article on here some time ago! Probably around last year. If Seymore comes on today, he’s much better at finding things than me!
    I’ll try this:

    “VA employees protest against poor veterans healthcare in Cleveland, Ohio”

    I’ll post it as soon as I find something.

    • @Crazy elf- Are you sure it wasn’t Cincinnati instead of Cleveland? I ask because I do faintly remember when that scandal broke out in Cincinnati VAMC where that director was prescribing to the VISN director’s wife controlled RX’s and the prescribing Dr. did not have a license to do so at time or something along those lines and at the same time Cincinnati VAMC workers were (I think) threatening to walk off job? ? ? All I know is that scandal was slammed closed and never heard a peep later about it…and to be honest, SO MUCH VA scandalous crap occurred just in the last 24 months, it’s hard to keep track of all this crap.

      • namnibor, ain’t that the freaking truth. It could have been Cincinnati. Right now my brain is fried!

      • IBM Watson Supercomputer probably has to utilize all it’s resources to maintain some sort of firewall for the VA corruption lest Watson succumb to data corruption. Remember, absolute corruption also corrupts absolutely. 🙂

        I feel really bad for any Veterans depending on the Choice program Crows today because it’s so windy here in the Midwest you could fly pigs or members of the three little VSO’s. 🙂 The crow’s AFGE representatives told them they were working too hard and to rest with the VA vultures. Crow was on the VAMC’s Canteen Cafeteria menu today, coincidentally.

      • Interesting you mention Choice Namnibor. I was going to post a separate comment on this, but this reply is as good a place as any.

        As I commented before, I again have been referred to Choice because my VA does not have a specialist. Again, I am getting jerked around by Healthnet like I did the last time.

        I found Healthnet has put up a fancy web site for veterans, which includes a link to a “Grievance form” that can be filled out and faxed to them. Rather than fax the form, I filled it out and emailed it to them, and copied Shulkin on the email.

        I sent that email 2 days ago. I never got a call from Choice on this, but I did get a call from a lady saying she was a “virtual” employee of the VA and worked for the VACO. She said she was calling on behalf of the Secretary to let me know that Choice had called me and that it was OK for me to go to an appointment next Monday. I said that was false, that Choice had NOT called me, that I had called them earlier that morning and finally got them to add the doctor I was supposed to see to the authorization. I then asked her about billing, and she said she would be emailing me with information on the authorization, and including information on where the provider should send the bill. She said the VA had just gotten a Congressional inquiry on this yesterday, and she had been working on it since then. What is surprising is that I never requested any Congressional inquiry.

        She seemed VERY helpful, which was just shocking.

        It will be interesting to see how long it takes Healthnet to respond to the form I emailed to them.

        Healthnets web site is at:

        “https://www.hnfs.com/content/hnfs/home/va/veteran.html” with the link to the form on the left menu.

      • @91Veteran-

        “Virtual Employee”? As in the VA has gone all-out ‘Max Headroom’? 🙂

        Something tells me IBM Watson also told the VA to f^ck off!

      • Namnibor, I asked her why she was calling me from another state, and that’s when she explained she was a virtual employee. I took it to mean from her explanation that while she works for the VACO, she lives in another state, and may even do her job from home.

        I can’t imagine it would be that difficult to set up secure computer access to what she needs, then make phone calls to veterans to resolve problems.

        Either way, she sent an email what what she described within an hour of the phone call.

        Something has lit a fire under someones ass.

    • Let us not make the mistake of believing that all VA employees are dedicated hard working individuals, after all they are do work for the federal government just like those at the SSA and TSA. Neither can we assume that because you’re at your work place or eving “working” for that matter, that you’re doing something constructive or productive. AFGE is there to protect the rightd VA employees not the rights of veterans.

      I’m eligible to use the Choice program but I never get to use it because my provider says “we’ll send you an appointment in the mail”. It make take three months for get a letter for an appointment that three weeks later.

  11. The International Foundation for Veterans Rights. I’ll go for this. We could get the monies to start the federation from the VA, everyone else does. Cut the check, cut the dam check. What are you waiting for? Cut the check, now.

  12. Apparently the longer an AFGE, VA employee works, the better chance they become a swamp thing. Perhaps we could limit their employment to, let’s say, 2 weeks? That way every person in America would be able to work. It doesn’t seem possible to get rid of the AFGE, and Veterans need Dr’s. Dilemma… Veterans do not have any say so anywhere.

  13. The Holman Rule

    The Holman Rule, named for the lawmaker who devised it in the late 1870s, allows last-minute amendments on the House floor to cut federal spending by reducing the number of government employees and cutting their salaries.

    Under this rule, lawmakers will be able to vote to eliminate the jobs of individual workers, programs, offices, or even entire military installations. Jobs could be cut without adhering to normal reduction-in-force (RIF) rules, meaning factors like veterans’ status, length of employee service, and high performance ratings will not apply.

    What Could Happen: Suppose a lawmaker felt singled out by a TSA officer while going through airport security screening. The lawmaker could introduce an amendment to the Homeland Security appropriations bill to eliminate that officer’s job – or eliminate all TSA officers at the particular airport – and instead hire lower-paid private screeners to do the work.

    “The Holman rule is a license for members of Congress to hunt and target individual federal workers or entire groups of federal workers for retaliation,” AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. said.

    Any action proposed under the Holman rule would require affirmative votes by the House and Senate, so AFGE members must stand ready to mobilize in opposition to any proposal targeting specific workers.

    • @Linda Smith – The Veterans on this blog aren’t for the AGFE Union. The AGFE is a money pit. Employees are too well protected, and Veterans are the most vulnerable. The AGFE needs to be removed from the VA. As the trolls come marching in, leave now.

    • @Linda Smith – The Holman Rule should be implemented against VA employees to rid of the quacks and snakes that are jeopardizing the lives of Veterans, and causing additional stress on their love ones and caretakers. What do you suggest as a quick way to remove the incompetent VA employees in order to protect the lives of Veterans.

      The VA has lost all of my trust. And, do you what, they don’t care. Why? Three reasons; [1.] These dangerous people are protecting by your blood sucking AGFE Union, [2.] Veterans are a meal ticket and paycheck, and [3.] As a professional courtesy, VA medical providers protect each other.

      Therefore, nothing will change in the VA healthcare system, unless the VA house is cleaned, and the agency is reformed and reorganized. Your thinking is not welcomed by Veterans. Its people like you who enjoy covering up the atrocities that are occurring due to the poor medical care that many Veterans are and have received from the VA. I say enact the Holman Rule, in order to remove the dam flakes out of the VA.

      So go and paddle your bullshit somewhere else. You’re misleading, and trying to cause division amongst the troops. Fortunately, many Veterans can see right through you ill advised plea. And Linda, pass the word around to your snowflake colleagues.

    • @Linda Smith: Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice and it’s toothpicks for you. I am glad however, that VA employees are reading this blog. VA employes should all read this blog, maybe the next time a veteran is standing before them they will realize they are NOT getting away with treating us like shit. Moreover, the entire world reads this blog, Think about that if you will. I have even seen headlines from newspapers in Japan. Think I am full of shit?

      Check this out “http://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2015/06/01/commentary/world-commentary/u-s-has-a-long-history-of-treating-veterans-poorly/” The VA’s reputation is known all over the world.

    • @Linda Smith: Can you claify if your a VA employee or not? I am asking because I have a hard time processing information at times due to a TBI. I can’t figure out if your for, or against the VA. and the way veterans are treated.

  14. Hmmm. I seem to recall mentioning a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) before.

    The question is, if this PIP is available for employees who might cost the VA money in bonuses for their managers, why is it not used when it costs a veteran their quality of life?

    Why is a PIP not used when a nurse storms off leaving veterans in pain, lying on an ER floor?

    Why is a PIP not used when patient advocates refuse to do their job, and blatantly lie to veterans?

    In fact, why have this quota system at all other than as a measurement system to justify some managers bonus?

    If they are going to have a quota system, bonuses, PIPs, etc., then why not have an equally important measurement of adjudicating a claim accurately?

    You can’t tell me this is impossible. You can’t tell me the VA cannot track how many claims adjudicated by a specific rater are appealed because of error.

    Fix that error rate, and I bet there would be less need of a quota to show how fast raters can push papers through the process rubber stamping them denied just to meet some bullshit quota.

    Why is a quota so important anyway if the claim is that veterans are so important to the VA, including them “striving” to deliver benefits?

    This makes it clear some managers arbitrary quota and resulting bonus is more important than everything else.

  15. I’m still trying to understand why there’s bonuses for making every Veteran out to be liars, causing the Veterans and their families so much pain, work, and Veterans deaths. Just doesn’t seem like something one would get a bonus for.

    • In the end, it comes down to the fact the Veteran’s Administration is a happier name placed on the original incarnation, which was and is at it’s core, a Dept. of Risk Management, aka, an Insurance and Liability Co., and their indifference is constant reminder we Vets are only tickets to that cookie jar…for them. We Veterans must be viewed the way senior old stogy partner attorneys at a corporate law firms view Christmastime Bonuses…a huge inconvenience and it cuts into their own profits.
      (I worked in such a law firm for 6 yrs as a doc. clerk years ago…still in therapy) No offense to attorneys in general, but it’s that corporate strata I get the reminder of with AFGE and VA Upper Management SES Types…I wonder if Shulkin smokes a cigar?

  16. PMC managers are still corrupt and all they care about is clearing claims so they can get big bonuses. It’s to their advantage to be punitive to the employees because the less employees that qualify for a bonus, the larger the pot to be disbursed to them. That place is a joke and Aspen is a joke too. I say get rid of bonuses altogether & reallocate funds for personnel hiring. That darn PMC is always short staffed & managers always breathing down your throats and monitoring you like you be a spy or something. Crazy, bad ass place to work. They gots to drain that swamp.

  17. Ben, did you call the union and ask what is going on why and what it all means? This could be done before making claims.

    Under Fed. law most hourly workers are prohibited from working overtime hours on their own and not being paid for those hours.

    In bad situations the employer gives more work than can be done in an 8 hr. day. But the employer will not permit the hourly worker to work additional time. Thus if the employer chooses he/she can start the process to terminate the worker if they find the worker is working on the off hours.

    Wal-Mart or WalGreens, I can not remember which, was sued in court by the pharmacists because they were working the pharmacists at the counter so hard during work hrs. these staff had to do all the Fed. reporting required on the issuance of certain types of drug after hrs. They had to do this to keep their licenses.

    The pharmacists, who are not hourly workers, won their case and got back pay I believe.

    Key point is this: Before you raise accusations of more corruption you need to make some calls and ask people what is going on.

    The law is the Fair Labor Standards Act. Peace! Buzz Davis Vets for Peace Tucson

    • Well you don’t work there so you think that’s how it rolls but that ain’t how it rolls and it’s always been like that. Now it’s about ruining employees ratings so there’s a bigger bonus for them managers. The less successful employees, the less employees that qualify for a bonus, the higher the percentage of the bonuses received by managers. It’s corruption at its best. Come work with us in Philadelphia.

  18. Irregardless of precisely what the investigation is meant for, what scares the hell out ANY VA employee is an honest attempt at learning the facts. They aren’t gonna fire anyone for working overtime any more than they fire somebody for armed robbery off hours. This happened at VA. When the armed robber, a VA employee who pled guilty to armed robbery, was fired from VA, the AFGE used a well known union clause within VA to get her reinstated with back pay even for time in prison.

    They did this by pointing out that the Director had been popped for felony drug possession. This little gem of a contract deal says if somebody else did something wrong but was not fired over it, like committing a felony, then you cannot fire anyone over it by contract.The union cannot possble be concerned about their members getting fired for working overtime if armed robbers and yes, child molesters, are given a break at VA for doing that crap.

    This letter is a smokescreen. Think of all the really gnarly bullshit that the union could “leak” a letter about, and the one that got leaked? is the one that makes the poor union worker look like the persecuted just for working hard…. union hard.

    I must say that this leaked memo looks like a bit of a plant with hopes that the “plight” of the union worker burning candles in closets to hide the overtime they spend in service to veterans will land on pages like this one. I know I would write some bullshit like this if I was getting paid and chose the life of a scumbag. I write now for just one of those reasons…

    AFGE believes that they know what veterans need and feel they deserve to get it good and hard.

    • “[AFGE believes that they know what veterans need and feel they deserve to get it good and hard.]”

      Only the very best union-made butt-plugs, spared no expense. Mind the lead and cadmium a few years down the road though…

    • I dunno Dennis. You might be right, but I read Ben’s post and the letter as an audit verifying why the overtime paid and data entered into ASPEN don’t match up.

      I don’t know who would enter data into ASPEN, but if it is not the rater, than it is someone higher up who is directing false data to be entered. Perhaps to justify a bonus.

      • I know a gal who used to workout at the gym during overtime and she was reported to the manager but he was just as corrupt and turned his cheek. Then they both got promoted. There are a lot of corrupt managers there. I knew a guy who killed himself because managers didn’t like him and they gave him real hard work. He was a veteran. Most of the managers there at that pension place in phil are not veterans and they don’t care about veterans, they have little buddy buddy clans and they fudge numbers and mess with the work of employees they don’t like and they get big bonus for work done by the people they screw. It’s real bad there. The big bully manager ain’t there no more but all his bully friends are and most the people he promoted are all corrupt. I can count with one hand the managers with scruples.

      • these people have had decades to stack the deck and hire their friends or other employee’s with bad habits. The VA needs to be as they call it vetted. The Holman Rule must be passed and if it does, we should be able to see droves of bad employee’s fired.

        They say you can not fire your way to success ! I call that false ! Fire a few thousands and the other’s will follow because they just can not help themselves from doing wrong. At the same time Good employee’s will be threatened by Management seeking revenge.

  19. “I`d rather step on my lips than complain” means I`m about to complain. DIANNE RUBENS. Rubens is right up there with Hillary Clinton. Some people simply don`t deserve to live. I have a short “Shit list”, A .45 & A Shovel. Her damn name keeps popping up. If something crooked, Bad, Or wrong involving the V.A. is picked up on on Ben`s radar, This bitch has had her hands in it. How she is STILL At the V.A. in ANY Capacity, To me is astounding. Hell, Even CONGRESS Suggested she get fired. Rep. Jeff Miller, The Chairman asked “And she`s still working for the V.A.?? She`s Done EVERYTHING one can do to get canned. (I mean Canned Literally, Like Dogfood) WHY Do I still hear about “Dianne FKIN Rubens”?

  20. I’m now being moderated. I copped an attitude a few years back against Mr. Honl when he was on this site calling me and other Veterans from Tomah names for merely being a Veteran from Tomah. I suffered over that name calling on the multiple occasions he posted defamatory statements against Tomah Veterans and no apology was ever made nor was I ever informed this was a safe place but I kept coming back to be around other veterans suffering from things like lost medical care (from the whistleblower day) poor or no care. Since, I’ve taken an interest in AFGE and the VSOs.

    A few weeks back, I questioned Honl on this site about his efforts and my name calling took a stretch to the word “grandstanding”. Hardly any comparison to the vulgar, regular personal derogatory, and gas lighting posts Honl used toward the group of us Veterans who have gone through pure medical hell.

    But now my comments are being moderated. I can see this is no veteran friendly place and it’s reasonable to assume Mr Honl can revert at will to his name calling with impunity while anything I utter in disagreement with him will be moderated by Ben.

    I think I’ve had enough of this. I was a big supporter of Ben and had even written to Jake Leinenkugel a few days on the importance of connecting with Ben. So y’all have a good time here — I’m out.

      • Seems to post without a problem if you put the URL in quotes. “http://jnnp.bmj.com/content/70/6/817.2”

    • @ Just Another Veteran, everyone gets that pop up when they post and then a thank you for posting. Ben does not have time to read every post and moderates it. That would take too much time. Don’t take offense, this place is Veteran centric and these are honest expressions of what Veterans suffer dealing with the va healthcare system. I hope you reconsider your continued posting on this blog.

  21. Also Bens site is acting up again. I already posted an answer to you but it went way up in the comments, and I received two emails notifying me of your first post lol

    • @cj, yeah they site is acting up tonight, did the same to me earlier, can you post the ingredients? Doing a little better i think the antibiotics are starting to work.

      • @Ex va: I am glad your doing better tonight. Yes here is the ingredients and recipe.

        Ingredients
        2 tbs olive oil
        1/2 medium onion, diced
        1/2 medium green onion, diced
        1/2 chopped green pepper
        1 celery stick cut in 3 pieces
        1/2 large carrot, chopped fine
        3 garlic cloves, minced
        1 tbs oregano
        1 tsp black pepper
        1 cups water
        1 tbsp fresh parsley, minced
        2 28 0z cans crushed tomatoes
        1 tbsp salt

        Optional Ingredients
        1 italian sausage link cut open crumbled and cooked
        Red Pepper to taste
        If sauce is too acidic add a pinch of sugar

        Cooking Time: 2 – 3 hours

        InSTRUCTIONS
        – Warm olive oil in large skillet, add
        onion, pepper, and garlic. Fry for
        5 minutes and add the rest of the
        ingredients. Cook for 2 hours at a
        low temperature, stirring occasionally
        Remove celery sticks.
        Sauce is ready to serve with any
        seafood, pasta or veal dish

  22. @ cj, thanks for the recipe. This gives me some hope of making something good. Lol. I’m writing this down when i get feeling better i will get to the store and get the ingredients. Sounds delicious, can’t wait. Love Italian food like this. Thank you.

  23. @Ex va: LOL, this might sound stupid, but you copied and pasted it right? Only reason I asked is because you said you would write it down later.

    • @ cj, no i wrote it down on some paper because i will forget it when i go to the store. I can copy and paste sometimes on this iPad. It is acting quirky tonight and my laptop and all in one is what i do type with. iPad is easier to use when i am sick. It is a lot smaller, but harder to get it to work. I am going to see if i can send these posts with the recipe to my printer then it would be easier to read than my handwriting. Lol. Thanks for doing this i appreciate it.

      • @Ex va: Make sure you change the salt from a tbs to a tsp. then if it needs more you can add a pinch at a time till it is how you like it.

  24. @Ex va: My favorite appointment is tomorrow. The memmory center. Am I crazy? that I actually look forward to going to a doctor? lol

    • @cj, no it isn’t crazy, it sounds like they are helping you. I am afraid of losing memory and if these people are helping you that is great. Actually the stuff i want to forget are the things i remember the most, i hate that. The things that i want to remember i struggle with, it sucks.

      • @Ex va: LOL I know exactly what you mean, your speaking my language. Yes they are a HUGE help, and enjoyable to be around too. Very proffesional. The time goes by so fast, an hour seems like just 15 munutes, I wish I could spend the entire day there.

  25. @cj, i tried to send it to printer and i only wants to print Ben’s article not the postings. It will not let me choose pages only 4 pages?

  26. @cj, i got it written down and will get it copied on printer tomorrow can’t get stuff to work right tonight. Lol. Geesh. It will not send all comments and i can’t copy and paste for some reason. Ughhh!

  27. @Ex va: Ex va, I better get some sleep, that appointment is early for me. Hope you sleep well, God Bless you and goodnight. Goodnight everyone else that may still be awake.

  28. The union is warning employees not to corporate. The VA is killing veteran’s by their misdeeds. Just like Dr korvokin with out the needle.

    The Holman Rule must be passed or thousands of veterans will die. This is and should be looked at very closely.

    Our senator’s in Colorado do not want to speak with their citizens. Are holding fake telephone town halls.

    Gardner’s office is calling people and stringing them along. He or his staff acted as if they were calling citizen’s to speak with Gardner and it was just a recording of his last talk and citizens never get to ask questions.

    It’s a scam

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