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VA tells 1,200 they have ALS

Posted By Uncle Jimbo • [August 24, 2009]

UPDATE: A message from Kevin Secor of the VA:

Subject: STATEMENT ON ALS
To:

To all:

In our efforts to keep Veterans informed of their expanding eligibility
for benefits, VA sent notifications to Veterans with amyotrophic lateral
sclerosis (ALS) for disability compensation benefits from the Department
of Veterans Affairs (VA), outreach letters were sent to 1,864 veterans
and survivors last week.  VA has since been contacted by a small number
of these Veterans who do not have ALS, but were mistakenly sent the ALS
outreach letter.  VA is immediately reviewing the individual claims
files for all the recipients of this letter to identify those who
received the notification in error.  VA employees are personally
contacting these individuals to ensure they understand the letter should
not be confused with a medial diagnosis of ALS, explain why they
mistakenly received the letter and express VA's sincere apologies for
the distress caused by this unfortunate and regrettable error.
Recipients of this letter are encouraged to call VA at 1-800-827-1000
with any questions.

You have no idea how badly I wanted to headline this "VA sends death threats to 2,000 vets" but then I remembered I don't work for the NY Times. I wonder how much the Obama administration has appreciated all the help the VA has been giving them showing the efficiencies, savings and professionalism of government health care.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — At least 1,200 veterans across the country have been mistakenly told by the Veterans Administration that they suffer from a fatal neurological disease.

One of the leaders of a Gulf War veterans group says panicked veterans from Alabama, Florida, Kansas, North Carolina, West Virginia and Wyoming have contacted the group about the error.

Denise Nichols, the vice president of the National Gulf War Resource Center, says the VA is blaming a coding error for the mistake.

Letters dated Aug. 12 were intended to notify veterans who have Lou Gehrig's disease of disability benefits available to them.

I don't want to pile on the VA as I have heard from any number of folks who have gotten excellent care from them. But that's not the point, in addition to any good they do we get the inevitable DMV-esque quality of service, and those Post Office-like budgeting skills. The government is the least-effective way to accomplish anything other than bureaucratic waste, inefficiency and crappy performance. The last six months may have done more than anyone since Reagan to drive that point home to anyone who has ever made and stuck to a damn budget.


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