Archive for the ‘Note From Lars’ Category

Jon Agrees With Lars (Or vice versa)

Friday, March 20th, 2009
The Daily Show With Jon Stewart M – Th 11p / 10c
That Can’t Be Right – Veterans’ Health Insurance
comedycentral.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Important Things w/ Demetri Martin Political Humor

Should You Pay For Me If… (Note From Lars)

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

Well Friends, ol’ Lars is fired up! He Who Must Not Be Named and his faithful sidekick Shinseki (nka Wormtail) want private health insurance programs to pay for treatment provided by the VA for service-connected medical conditions.

This is outrageous!

The VA already bills “Third party” payors (i.e. private health insurance) millions of dollars a year that they shouldn’t. Most notably in that amount is charges to private insurance for prescription medication that is supposed to be paid for by the VA. Veterans exposed to ionizing radiation and environmental contaminants while in-service are supposed to receive free medication for conditions that may be related to those exposures. Problem is, nobody in VA or the third party payors knows that. So the VA bills these insurance companies millions every year and they just keep on paying. Primarily because they don’t want to get in trouble with The Gubmint.

Why should you care?

Hang on, Lars’ll tell ya. You should care because those insurance companies are passing that cost on to you!

Whenever the VA bills the insurance company, the insurance company turns right around and increases your premiums. The end result is that you are paying for what the VA (gubmint) should be paying for. Very few people believe that they don’t pay enough taxes, and it is the taxes that we pay that should be funding our defense costs. Included in those defense costs should be gubmint funded health care for people who were injured in-service (service- connected conditions).

Congress enables VA to continue this practice by way of the Medical Care Cost Recovery Program (MCCR). The VA is giddy about the program because they can spend the money they collect any way they want to. Therefore, by expanding the program to include charging private insurance companies for service-connected conditions, they can increase the collections at least ten-fold. They can then use that money to buy fine leather portfolios, and pay big fat bonuses, for the chronic underperformers at the highest echelons of the bloated bureaucracy.

This isn’t the CHANGE we were promised friends. This is more of the same, only worse. This is a step in the wrong direction and unless something drastic is done they are going to get away with it.

Now is the time to STOP THE MADNESS! Tell congress NO. Tell the Administration NO. Tell them that it is the responsibility of government, not the private sector, to bear the cost burden of providing health care to Veterans who were injured in-service.

Only A Matter Of Time (Note From Lars)

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

Hello Friends:

Been awhile but thought I should write to tell you of an occurrence that was sure to come.  I knew from the first time that I saw her telling him: “Will you turn that TV down!”, that the relationship was on the rocks.

For those who haven’t followed this drama, I’m referring to the couple in the GET SUPER BIONIC HEARING commercials.  Whenever that poor old man would have the TV volume up loud enough to hear it, there was that old bitty yelling at him to turn the volume down.  The primary reason that Lars has so many ex-wives is that he wants the volume up loud enough to hear it without having to wear a Fender sized amplifier on his head.

Well, Lars isn’t alone, it turns out.  You see the old man got tired of the nagging and sent her packing.  Nowadays she’s taken up with the UPSIDE DOWN TOMATO PLANTER fellow.

God knows how long she’ll last there.  How long will it be before she’s dissatisfied with the ripeness of his tomatoes?

Friends, take it from ol’ Lars, if  you want long term happiness you need to remember two important things:

1.  Sometimes we like the volume up.

b.  Tomato plants need to grow right side up.

Until next time,

Lars

Shoot First… (A Note From Lars)

Saturday, January 24th, 2009

Greetings Friends:

Late to the party, as usual, but this morning I was perusing an article from The Fayetteville (NC) Observer titled: “Changes coming to veterans hospitals?”

In the article some schmuck named Dave Rainey, identified as spokesman for the VA Mid-Atlantic network is quoted as saying: “On one hand, we have a $1.8 billion budget. That’s taxpayer money, and it has to be spent effectively, by making plans in the short term and the long term. That’s the business case for what we plan there in the Salisbury VA.” (Wait… What?)

The VA decided, arbitrarily and capriciously, that they weren’t spending taxpayer money effectively so ordered that shutdown of the ER and surgical service at the Salisbury, NC VA medical center. When the situation came to light, politicians got involved and the VA Secretary ordered the decision be reversed. Here’s how the director of the Salisbury VA characterized it: “The Secretary of Veterans Affairs, The Honorable James B. Peake, MD, has made a decision regarding the proposed (proposed? proposed? those changes weren’t proposed, they were ORDERED.) changes for the Salisbury VA Medical Center. This decision was made after careful deliberation and review of information from veterans and their family members, employees, veterans’ organizations, congressional members, local government officials and concerned citizens.

There will be no changes in the services offered by the Salisbury VA until 2013. The inpatient medical/surgical unit and the emergency department will remain open while Health Care Centers are constructed in Charlotte and Winston-Salem and relationships with community health care partners are developed. Salisbury will also continue to provide outpatient primary care and mental health services, medical and surgical outpatient specialty care and all other related medical services currently available. In addition, programs will be established in Mental Health and Long Term Care. The large number of inpatient beds in these areas will remain open as programs and services are added.

The Health Care Centers in Charlotte and Winston-Salem will essentially provide all clinical services with the exception of inpatient care and emergency department services. Plans for doubling the size of the Hickory clinic remain ongoing, with an estimated completion date of 2010.

The establishment of after-hours primary care clinics at Salisbury, Charlotte, Winston-Salem and Hickory will be implemented as soon as possible. This will involve extended hours Monday through Friday as well as weekend hours. A 24/7 telephone triage call center will be established and a case management program will be implemented for veterans referred through the Salisbury Fee Program.

This plan will improve health care access for our veterans and decrease their travel burden while providing comprehensive health care close to where veterans reside.

Carolyn L. Adams
Director”

Q: What can we gleen from this information?

A: The VA shoots first…

Ol’ Lars is pretty broke down friends, and I rely on help from a home health worker to keep me at home instead of in a nursing home. Recently a new coordinator was hired by the VA Mountain Home and he decided that me, and hundreds of Veterans like me, didn’t need twelve hours of care a week, we only needed two. He called me on a Monday and told me that my services would be terminated Wednesday. I called a friend in Washington D.C., and by Friday the Mountain Home director announced that the Secretary of VA had ordered the decision reversed.

While I was on the phone with this new Mountain Home guy I commented on how odd it was that this information would come in a phone call. I said that this kind of information is usually mailed, along with an explanation of how to appeal the decision. He replied: “We didn’t want to incur the expense of a mailing.”

True story friends, Lars wouldn’t lie to you. So I said to him, I said: “I don’t know how much you make, but I know it’s more than 60,000 dollars a year, and it is costing the VA a hundred times as much for you to be making all these phone calls as it would cost to mail a letter.”

But that’s the point I want to make. The way VA makes decisions ultimately results in an enormous INCREASE in what is ultimately spent. For years and years I was telling the VA that there was something seriously wrong with my neck. Despite several doctors recommendations they wouldn’t authorize an MRI because “That’s taxpayer money…”, so they took dozens of x-rays. Because x-rays can’t see soft tissue damage they kept telling me that everything was fine. Finally I wound up in the ER at a civilian (real) hospital and they did an MRI. There were two ruptured disks in my neck that were flattening the spinal cord from opposite directions.

Can you image what kind of pain that caused?

So, I take the MRI report to the VA and say: “Now what?” And the VA says: “We’ll set you up with a civilian neurosurgeon at a civilian hospital that will cost the VA at least 250,000 dollars and because while you are there the anesthesiologist will damage your nose lining causing your lungs to fill up with blood which will require 10 days in the civilian hospital with extensive involvement from the pulmonary department which will wind up costing the VA over 500,000 dollars.” “O, and by the way, the VA will call the hospital daily complaining about how much it is costing the VA and demanding you be transferred back to the VA hospital, which will result in the pulmonary problems not being resolved properly and you will have to go on home oxygen for the rest of your life which will cost the VA well over a million dollars.”

And I say: “Why?”. And the VA says: “Because that’s taxpayer money and we have to spend it effectively.”

Now I’m not the brightest bulb in the box. I have ancestors named Ole. But, I do know that you can be penny wise and pound foolish. Or, for Ole: Øre wise and kroner foolish.

Until next time,

Lars Harfagre

Note From Lars: An Idea Whose Time Has Come

Friday, January 16th, 2009

We put in a call to Lars Harfagre, Warrior Emeritus, to see if he had any thoughts for us and we now bring you the most recent “Note From Lars”.

Hello Friends, Lars Here:

Don’t like that Dr. Phil.  Going back to when he was on the Opry show.  Opry Winfrey’s show.  He comes across as a bloviating blowhard.  To be fair, though, he does have some commendable moments.  One of those came on this past December 19th.  In that show, titled “Beyond The Front Lines”, Dr. Phil and his guests pore over some of the catastrophic failures of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

I was clued in to the show by reading a December 31st article in The Washington Times by Dr. Robert Van Boven, director of a VA Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) program in Texas, titled “Dealing with PTSD, VA failures exposed in living color”.  In that article Van Boven succinctly illustrates how the VA operates with this example: “…at Central Texas Veterans Health Care System, suppression and inaction to disclosures of fraud, waste, plagiarism, and cronyism fell upon deaf ears to protect the inner circle of involved management and shortchange victims of traumatic brain injury (TBI). Consequently, attempts to bring to light misdoings by management at the only dedicated TBI brain imaging and treatment research program in Texas resulted not in remedies, but reprisals and covert plans for considering closure of the program without explanation.”

Couple of things that the VA won’t tell you that shed light on the situation:

1.  Only the Department of the Army has a higher percentage of employees quit each year.

2.  According to the VA’s own research “Veterans  with alternative insurance coverage were less likely to use VA and tended to use VA for special care such as pharmacy… Having a regular VA physician had a significantly
negative effect on the ratio of pharmacy to total cost and on the likelihood of staying in VA hospitals for mental health/substance abuse treatment, implying that VA enrollees’ with regular non-VA physicians tend to use VA mainly for special care such as pharmacy or mental health/substance abuse treatment.”

I have had the bad fortune to require massive amounts of health care in both VA and civilian hospitals and clinics.  There is a huge difference between the quality of care.  Civilian hospitals beat VA every time.  And there is a large group of people advocating using the VA as a national model for Government Health Care.  That should be very troubling to the average citizen.

The proof is in the pudding, and the VA is making runny pudding.

Veterans should be given (Like in Australia) cards to access the health care of their choice and shut the VA down entirely.

Godspeed friends, and may the wind be always at your back.

Lars

P.S.

If you read this and think that your tax dollars could be better spent by someone other than the VA, please contact your elected representatives and thell them about it.