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Army veteran who said prosthetic legs were repossessed, will get new pair from VA

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softail

COLLINS, Miss. - The Department of Veterans Affairs has said it will make a new pair of prosthetic legs for a Mississippi Army veteran who had his prosthetic legs repossessed two days before Christmas. 

Jerry Holliman, 69, who served in Vietnam and Iraq and received the Bronze Star Medal, recently claimed that his legs had been repossessed and that the VA was not willing to pay for them. After his plight made headlines around the country, the VA office in Jackson said it would settle the dispute and is willing to make him a new set of prosthetic legs free of charge.

"We have reached out to Mr. Holliman and let him know that we would like to see him again," said Dr. David Walker, the medical center director at the Jackson VA, to Fox News. "We certainly are willing to evaluate him and make him a new set of prosthetic legs."

Holliman, who is considering taking legal action against the VA, told Fox News this week the government agency had refused to pay for a set of prosthetic legs he needed after a case of gangrene forced doctors to amputate both his legs below the knee.

“It’s something I’m thinking about doing. It’s like a roadblock that they don’t want to budge,” Holliman said at the time. “They won’t address my legs and they won’t do prosthesis on them and they not paying me for loss of limb.”

Medical records show that Holliman has had several ailments over the years. He’s survived three forms of cancer, kidney failure, and diabetes--most of which he attributes to being exposed to Agent Orange, a tactical herbicide used by the U.S.military during the Vietnam War from 1962 to 1975.

Last August, two months after doctors amputated his left leg, Holliman received a pair of prosthetic legs from Hanger. He had begun therapy sessions with the company at the Collins State Veterans Home to learn how to properly walk.

That all came to halt on Dec. 23 when a representative from Hanger repossessed his prosthetic legs after learning the VA would not pay for them. It was a huge blow to Holliman’s hopes of being able to return to home in Hattiesburg, Miss., for the holidays.

“It’s like somebody walked up to you and gave you a punch in the gut,” Holliman said. “Why would you come and take a veteran’s legs?’

The set of prosthetic legs were returned to Holliman a few days later. However, Holliman said Hanger would no longer make the needed adjustments that allowed him to properly use the prosthetic legs until someone paid for them.

The VA told Holliman that the prosthetics legs were obtained as a private purchase, which precluded them from paying for them on his behalf. Instead, he said he was told to use Medicare to pay for them. He refused that option because he said using Medicare would have required him to pay a co-pay.

Krisita Burkey, the vice president of public relations and communications at Hanger, told Fox News in a statement that patient privacy laws prevented the company from talking about Holliman’s case specifically. However, she said, “Hanger does not take back prosthetic devices once a patient signs for the delivery.

"A signed verification of delivery is a necessary step in the delivery process due to regulations, but actual payment is not required upon delivery to the patient," the statement continued. "Payment is typically received from the applicable payer, whether it is a private insurer, Medicare/Medicaid or the VA, at a later date.”

Walker told Fox News that Holliman had come to the VA’s prosthetics department in Jackson shortly after his left leg was amputated. Holliman inquired about the VA making him a pair of prosthetic legs, but Walker said the VA was unable to begin the process at the time.

“We cannot begin a prosthetic evaluation until the skin is completely healed because of the pressure and the things that are required to wear and use a prosthetic device,” he explained.

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Walker, who was given permission by Holliman to speak about the case to Fox News, said the 69-year-old never followed up with the VA after that visit. Instead, he said Holliman went to a private clinic and then to Hanger to obtain prosthetic legs.

“We want veterans to use us,” Walker said. “If a veteran chooses to go outside of our system, we cannot, unfortunately, take on the responsibilities for private purchases and that's the case.”

Holliman denied that he had gone to Hanger on his own to get prosthetic legs. He said he had no authority to make his own appointments and was following directives from medical personnel at the state-run veterans home where he's resided for the last year.

After the VA's decision to give him a new set of prosthetic legs, Holliman told Fox News he accepted an appointment for later this month. However, after this ordeal, he remains skeptical.

“I can’t walk on proposals. I need to see it [to] fruition,” Holliman said. “I’m trying to recoup my life. I can’t do it on my own. I need the help of the VA.”

https://www.foxnews.com/us/gold-star-army-vet-considering-lawsuit-in-dispute-with-va

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SkyMan

You gotta be a pretty heartless bastard to repo someone's legs.

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to_dave007

 

33 minutes ago, SkyMan said:

You gotta be a pretty heartless bastard to repo someone's legs.

Was he wearing the legs at the time of repossession?  Not like repossessing a car is it.  Legs won't be outside in the driveway.  You need to gain entry to the man's house likely..  and why would he let you in?  and how would he let you in if he's wearing his legs?  But really.. this article gives me images of physically restraining the man while taking his legs...  and then leaving him to get home without them.

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softail

Maybe he borrowed the money from the Mob, about the only ones that I could think of that would do such a heartless thing.

I have to say, this is the most evil thing I have read in a long time.

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smokey

I read this weeks ago and its tear jerker smoke and mirrors.    What the other side said was he ordered these not from va but another company some sales guy got him to order without getting approval and he did not order from approved va places the va rejected the bill der .. 

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Edwin
2 hours ago, smokey said:

I read this weeks ago and its tear jerker smoke and mirrors.    What the other side said was he ordered these not from va but another company some sales guy got him to order without getting approval and he did not order from approved va places the va rejected the bill der .. 

From reading the article above I felt the guy is a deadbeat con artist working the VA for something they have no responsibility for. Medicare would cover the prosthetics but he didn't want that because he would be responsible for a co-pay.  No pity from me.

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Jester

Tough call with limited info.  As a vet I know some real heart breaking stories of what has happened to vets and how they have been screwed by the system.  The worst one was a guy named Mike, story would make most people sick.

Make sure to make your exorcist payments or you will get repossessed. 

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Paddy
5 hours ago, Jester said:

Make sure to make your exorcist payments or you will get repossessed. 

The first time I read the thread title I missed the “re”.  My reaction was what will “they” think of next?..

Then I saw the “re” - and knew the answer...

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lamoe

More info here. Long article saying basically who did or didn't do what will never be known.


 

Quote

 

https://www.truthorfiction.com/were-an-army-veterans-prosthetic-legs-repossessed-after-a-va-and-medicare-dispute/

On January 9 2020, an article about Army veteran Jerry Holliman and the repossession of his prosthetic legs after a payment dispute between the VA and Medicare was shared to Reddit’s r/nottheonion, a subreddit for news stories odd enough to sound as though they could be satire, but aren’t:

 

Comments addressed the summarized claim versus its details. One commenter asserted that the linked reporting was insufficiently detailed, making the described situation difficult to understand fully:

From the article, the vet did not ask for or get the legs from the VA. He got them from a private provider apparently without being seen at the VA. The VA has a prosthetics service at every VA med center and provides legs, arms, hands, wheelchairs, canes, walkers, hospital beds, urinals, scooters, enteral infusion pumps, etc, etc, etc.

But for the VA to pay for something you actually have to get it through the VA, either directly or after they authorize a community provider to get it. The VA does not pay random bills that show up in their mailbox — that would lead to excessive fraud waste and abuse — to ask taxpayers to pay the bill for health care the VA needs to have some process of accountability to ensure that the taxpayers are not being scammed or ripped off (not saying that was the issue here, but that is why the VA has policies and procedures).

It sounds like this poor guy was confused about the process, did not understand ‘how things work’. It would take investigation to learn why that was the case — whether the VA failed to provide him with the info he needed to get what he needed, or if he did not take advantage of the VA’s help at all. Who knows? not enough info in the linked article to decide this.

Linked in the original post was a January 9 2020 Newsweek article titled “Army Veteran Has Prosthetic Legs Repossessed After VA Refuses to Pay for Them: ‘Medicare Did Not Send Me to Vietnam.'” It began by indicating Holliman “claimed” his prosthetic legs were repossessed, and cited original reporting by the Clarion Ledger:

A decorated military veteran who served in Vietnam and Iraq has claimed that his prosthetic legs were taken away after the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) would not cover the cost.

Jerry Holliman, 69, told the Clarion Ledger that he was in his room at the Veterans Home in Collins, Mississippi just a couple days before Christmas when a man walked in and took away his prosthetic limbs. According to Holliman, the VA said it would not cover the cost of the limbs, while Medicare said there’d be a copay required.

“Medicare did not send me to Vietnam,” Holliman, who received Bronze Stars in both wars in which he served, told the Ledger in an article published Thursday. “I was sent there by my country…with the understanding that if something bad happened to me, that it would be covered by the VA.”

Newsweek‘s information appeared to have been sourced in its entirety from reporting published the same day by the Clarion Ledger. According to that coverage, Holliman’s prosthetic legs were repossessed on December 23 2019.

That article began by reporting that Holliman had intended to move out of a veteran’s nursing home and regain independence after receiving prosthetic legs, but that the limbs were “repossessed” just before Christmas 2019:

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs wouldn’t pay for his prosthetic legs, Holliman said, and Medicare wanted him on the hook for co-pays. As Holliman tried to navigate what felt like a maze of paperwork, it felt like his country was forgetting him.

“Medicare did not send me to Vietnam,” Holliman said. “I was sent there by my country… with the understanding that if something bad happened to me, that it would be covered by the VA.”

According to the paper, Holliman obtained the prosthetic legs from a company called Hanger in August 2019, and at some point learned the “U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs would not pay for his prosthetic legs.” Parties involved (such as the VA, Hanger, the facility in which Holliman resided, and Medicare) were unable to comment on the story due to medical privacy laws.

The paper said Holliman “tried to raise the alarm” with nursing home staff, but also that Holliman understood the VA was the only entity who could make the decision. In that reporting, the outlet indicated Holliman was advised to “use Medicare” to cover the costs, but it wasn’t clear which parties advised which things.

It continued, suggesting that the prosthetic legs were repossessed after Holliman declined to sign unspecified Medicare forms. Holliman said the forms mentioned a co-pay for the limbs but not a total cost, and that Holliman refused in part because he believed the VA should cover the cost of the limbs:

Holliman said he was encouraged to use Medicare to pay for the prosthetic legs, but he was never shown a total cost, and the forms indicated he would have to pay a co-pay.

So he refused, never expecting what would come next.

On Dec. 23 [2019], an employee from Hanger came to the Veterans Home to see Holliman. Holliman said the man was adjusting his prosthetic legs, then asked him to sign some paperwork for Medicare.

Holliman said he declined because the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs should pay for the legs in full … The man responded by taking the legs and leaving.

Newsweek‘s article was widely discussed on Reddit, but it was not as detailed as the original article from which its information was drawn. According to the Clarion Ledger, the same Hanger representative visited Holliman on January 2 2020 and returned the legs.

However, Holliman’s difficulties with retaining and using his prosthetic limbs was not yet over. Although he indicated the representative was friendly and acknowledged Holliman’s military honors, simply getting the legs back did not resolve the situation:

“He didn’t know that I received those [rewards],” Holliman said.

There was a problem with the legs, though. No adjustments had been made to them, Holliman said, and he can’t walk without one leg folding in on him.

“’You can have ‘em,’” Holliman recalled the man saying, “but they’re not going to do anything to them until the VA pays them.”

Initially, Hanger told the Clarion Ledger that it was unable to comment due to patient privacy laws, and a waiver from Holliman was required to further discuss the impasse over his prosthetic legs. Hanger spokesperson Meghan Williams eventually described a complex rigamarole during which the clinic maintained that it “does not take back prosthetic devices after final delivery to a patient has been made,” but that “final delivery … [is only fulfilled if] a patient has signed a verification of receipt that allows a claim for payment to be submitted to the applicable insurance payer.”

In other words, Holliman receiving and using the prosthetic legs was not considered “final delivery” because payment on the limbs was at least partially outstanding. Finally, the Clarion Ledger described a lack of resolution over Holliman’s legs and his desire to leave the nursing home. None of the parties involved  — including the VA, Medicare, and Hanger — commented on its resolution, citing medical privacy laws.

On January 9 2020, Clarion Ledger reporter Giacomo Bologna tweeted an image sent to him by Holliman’s son of the unadjusted legs:

 

As that report illustrated, obtaining the basic facts of the story was complicated — perhaps in no small part because people whose answers might prove unpopular could hide behind medical privacy laws. But the Reddit commenter quoted above hinted that VA procedure might be a factor in the payment dispute, and they claimed that the VA’s rules in part require going through the agency for approved devices and procedures:

But for the VA to pay for something you actually have to get it through the VA, either directly or after they authorize a community provider to get it. The VA does not pay random bills that show up in their mailbox — that would lead to excessive fraud waste and abuse — to ask taxpayers to pay the bill for health care the VA needs to have some process of accountability to ensure that the taxpayers are not being scammed or ripped off (not saying that was the issue here, but that is why the VA has policies and procedures).

Holliman said that he believed the VA should pay for his prosthetic legs, a sentiment clearly shared due to the article’s virality. The VA Prosthetics Handbook contained a section called “3.4. Provision of Artificial Limbs.” Sections A through C described the VA’s procedures for administration involving prosthetic limbs:

a. Artificial limbs, parts and repairs must be procured, fabricated and issued to eligible beneficiaries by prescription from a designated physician assigned to the Amputee Clinic Team or from the Prosthetic Representative in accordance with the policies and procedures outlined in VHA Handbook 1173.1, VHA Handbook 1173.2, and VHA Handbook 1173.3. Prescription for the initial prosthesis, and any change in the prescription, requires the involvement of the Amputee Clinic team physician, or in the case of a partial foot amputation, the podiatrist assigned to the Amputee Clinic Team. A prescription for a new prosthesis, or a change in the current prosthetic prescription, occurs in conjunction with an appointment in an Amputee Clinic.

b. These artificial limbs (appliances) can be procured from contract vendors where adequate appliance facilities are available, the time required to receive delivery of the appliance is not excessive for patients, and the prices charged for such appliances are reasonable. NOTE: VA Orthotic Laboratories with a certified prosthetist may also be used as a source in the fabrication of preparatory, temporary, and permanent artificial limbs.

c. Eligible veterans, as identified in VHA Handbook 1173.1, who have previously received artificial limbs from commercial sources, will continue to have their choice of vendors on contract with VA or their non-contract prosthetist, providing the prosthetist accepts the VA preferred provider rate for the geographic area. VA facilities with Orthotic Laboratories that have certified prosthetists, or facilities with access to a VA Laboratory, will provide eligible veteran amputees with the preparatory or temporary prosthesis and permanent limbs. NOTE: When the patient has achieved appropriate shrinkage and is ready for a permanent prosthesis, the preparatory or temporary prosthesis is replaced.

That particular handbook was long and detailed, and the word “excessive” appeared at least eleven times. Typically, it was used in conjunction with guidelines involving private vendors (possibly like Hanger). Section 3.5., “VA Source for Artificial Limbs Purchased for VA Beneficiaries,” holds:

a. The VA Artificial Limb Contract must be used as a primary source in custom fabrication for artificial limbs purchased for VA beneficiaries. However, fabrication may be from VA Orthotic Laboratories where adequate facilities are conveniently available, certified staff is available to patients and prescribing physicians, the time required for delivery is not excessive or will not result in prolonged hospital stay for patients, and the prices charged for such appliances are reasonable.

The VA also hosted prosthetics.va.gov for a battery of individual handbooks relating to myriad prosthetics (and a timeline of military prosthetics), all of which were download-only. Multiple, dense “handbooks” provided by the VA seemed a possible contender for the “maze of paperwork” which Holliman tried to navigate before obtaining the subsequently-repossessed artificial limbs.

One of several handbooks, timelines, guideline sheets, and fact sheets [PDF] noted the VA provided “prosthetic equipment,” highlighting a lack of available information in the story about Hanger’s status with the VA and the manner in which the prosthetics were prescribed and dispensed. Reading between the lines, it seemed possible both that the devices were not covered automatically by the VA, and that that information might not be obvious to a patient like Holliman until it escalates to a scenario like the limb repossession:

VA provides all clinically appropriate and commercially available, state-of-the-art prosthetic equipment, sensory aids and devices to Veterans that cross the full range of patient care. Such items include: artificial limbs and bracing, wheeled mobility and seating systems, sensory-neural aids (e.g., hearing aids, eyeglasses), cognitive prosthetic devices, items specific to women’s health, surgical implants and devices surgically placed in the Veteran (e.g., hips and pacemakers), home respiratory care, recreational and sports equipment. In addition to providing devices, PSAS also administers the following three unique benefits to assist Veterans and Servicemembers with disabilities.

In the end, no one involved seemed to deny some basic facts — that Holliman obtained prosthetic legs in August 2019, and that Hanger “repossessed” the prostheses on December 23 2019 (returning them without adjusting them on January 2 2020). Holliman contended the VA ought to pay for his prosthetic legs, and available VA guidelines indicated that prosthetics like legs are covered under their benefits — so long as the devices are approved of and/or dispensed by the VA. Details regarding the dispute around the VA, Medicare, and Hanger were unavailable due to privacy laws, making the claim broadly decontextualized.

As of January 9 2020, Holliman’s prosthetic legs were returned, but without the necessary adjustments he needed to utilize them and move out of the nursing home.

 

 

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Headshot

When I had my heart device implanted, the doctors and hospital in the US had to wait until I had been on a certain set of prescribed medications for 90 days because Tricare had a rule that no implant would be paid for unless the medications had been tried first. So I waited until the 90 days was up, and between Tricare and Medicare, they paid for everything. If I had had the implant done in the Philippines, the doctors wouldn't have even considered the Tricare rules, and I would have had to pay for everything out of my own pocket. This guy decided that he wanted prosthetic legs before the doctors at VA thought he was ready for them (I'm sure they had rules to follow), so he went out and got the prosthetic legs (before his legs were properly healed) from a provider that wasn't approved by the VA. Then he wondered why the VA wouldn't pay for the prosthetic legs. You can either abide by the rules, or you can pay for things yourself. This guy made his choice, and it cost him. Boo hoo.

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smokey

He wont pay for shit and he is not dumb there are always.rules va is slow but free 

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softail
2 hours ago, smokey said:

He wont pay for shit and he is not dumb there are always.rules va is slow but free 

I spent several years taking my father back and forth to the VA. The VA was the worst organization I have ever dealt with. Impossible to get an appointment, my father was full of cancer which metastasized, was never diagnosed until an outside hospital diagnosed, which by then was a death sentence.

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smokey

Well has not been that way for me especially va manila guess depends on where you go and who you speak to i did have a long delay in arizona

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softail
5 hours ago, smokey said:

Well has not been that way for me especially va manila guess depends on where you go and who you speak to i did have a long delay in arizona

This happened in Seattle.

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SkyMan
On 1/20/2020 at 11:23 PM, Jester said:

Make sure to make your exorcist payments or you will get repossessed. 

I can't stop dancing.  Please, make them stop!!

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