GIGANTOR TOOK HER MAN HANDS AND CURTAIN THIGHS TO THE TONIGHT SHOW WHERE SHE TRIED TO COME OFF CARING AND FAILED.
SO INSTEAD SHE INSISTED TO AMERICA, WEARING TRASHY CASUAL THAT EMPHASIZED HER BRA AND STRESSED YET AGAIN THAT SHE CAN'T DRESS WORTH S**T, THAT CELEBRITY IN CHIEF BARRY O "SINGS TO ME ALL THE TIME."
WHO THE HELL CARES?
THE COUNTRY IS IN A RECESSION. GIGANTOR'S NEVER GRASPED THAT. SHE'S GONE ON JAUNTS WITH HER FRIENDS AND SPENT A SMALL FORTUNE ON SOME OF THE UGLIEST CLOTHES WHILE BORING THE COUNTRY WITH HER STORIES OF SELF.
SHE'S A SMALL-MINDED, SELF-OBSESSED BORE.
IT'S A REAL SHAME THAT WHEN THE COUNTRY NEEDED ANOTHER ROOSEVELT, THEY ENDED UP WITH A TRASHY "REAL HOUSEWIFE OF CHICAGO."
"Time and time again," declared Michael Michaud this morning, "VA comes up here and testifies that it has wonderful policies in place. Unfortunately no one ever seems to follow these policies and procedures and they seem to be no consequences for the failure to follow these procedures."
He was speaking at a House Veterans Affairs Committee hearing which Chair Jeff Miller explained in his opening remarks, "I want to thank everybody for coming to hearing today entitled 'Examining VA's Pharmaceutical Prime Vendor Contract.' We started investigating PPVs and the contract well before the story on this hit the press and we found enough that questions were raised to warrant the hearing that we're going to hold today and possibly subsequent hearings in the future. Now a PPV contract, when written and executed correctly, is intended to ensure VA receive the needed medical pharmaceuticals at a competitive price and in a timely fashion. Medical facilities throughout the nation rely on this system to ensure that the patients get the best care. That the veterans get the best care that they need. they deserve and they've earned. The Committee's investigation began when discrepancies appeared in how VA ordering officials had been handling open market purchases of items not available on the PPV contract. These purchases go back much further than just the last year or two. In fact, they span multiple administrations showing many within VA chose to ignore whether than fix a problem they knew about."
Appearing before the Committee on the first panel was the Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs W. Scott Gould (accompanied by the VA's John R. Gingrich, Glenn D. Haggstrom, Jan R. Frye, Philip Matkovsky, Steven A. Thomas and Michael Valentino), on the second panel the Deputy Assistant Inspector General for Audits and Evaluations Office of Inspector General's Linda Halliday (with Mark Myer sand Michael Grivnovics) and on the third panel McKesson Corporations' Vice President on Health Systems' Sharon Longwell.
This was a hearing where first panel witnesses tossed around terms and words that were unfamiliar -- US House Rep and Dr. Phil Roe would stop a witness at one point and tell him no one understood what he was saying. And the issues could get complicated. So what you need to remember on this is that there are guidelines the VA must follow on ordering. Those guidelines exist for many reasons. The three primary reasons are (1) safety of the veterans, (2) ensuring that the government gets the best price possible, and (3) ensuring that cronyism or kickbacks are not taking place as the VA invents its own rules (or disregards those in place).
US House Rep Bob Filner is the Ranking Member of this Committee. He was not present at the hearing and Michaud served as the Ranking Member. He declared in his opening statements, "The VA admits that it did not follow all applicable laws and regulations for approximately 1.2 billion dollars in what was called Open Market Drug Purchases since 2004. VA assures us that changes have been implemented to fix deficiencies at hand. Frankly, Mr. Chairman, we've heard this before."
There was a lot of justifying and minimizing by the VA and, as Michaud noted, the claim that Congress need not worry, that the VA had already fixed everything on its own. Gould insisted that what took place "was not criminal and at no time were our veterans at risk." Miller asked him, "Is this a violation of the law?" Gould replied, "Yes."
Chair Jeff Miller: [. . .] When did senior leadership first learn of the unlawful purchasing? And I'd like to ask each individual at the table independently to let me know when you first heard about it and what you specifically did when you heard about it?
W. Scott Gould: Sir, to be responsive on that question, then each of us you will answer that. What you will see is a range of dates as the problem escalated through the system. To answer personally for the senior management team, I first knew about this issue in September of last year, September of 2011.
Chair Jeff Miller: And we'll start down here, Mr. Valentino?
Michael Valentino: I became aware of the issue with Open Market Purchases in December of 2010 when the clause was removed from the draft solicitation.
Philip Matkovsky: I became aware in September of 2011.
John Gingrich: I became aware in September of 2011.
Glenn D. Haggstrom: With respect to the improper use of the Open Market Clause, I became aware of it in March 2011.
Chair Jeff Miller: When did you hear about the illegal use?
Glenn D. Haggstrom: March of 2011.
Jan R. Frye: I became aware in March 2011, March 29th, to be exact.
Steven A. Thomas: And I became aware in January of '09 when a Logistics Manager from the CMA* identified this as an issue. At that point, I worked with general counsel, acquisition review, IG, other at the NAC [National Acquisition Center], VHA including PBM and the CMA to try to correct the issue for the CMA which we became responsible for at the National Acquisition Center in December of '08. I tried to add items to the federal supply schedule as much as possible to cover that gap. I tried to have additional things put on requirements, types of contracts, that we had limited success on. But the main thing I did was, I corrected the issue for the CMA. So the CMA follows appropriate procedures at that point. And that was the area of responsibility that I had.
W. Scott Gould: So, Mr. Chairman, today you've gone down the list to see what people knew, when they knew. The people at the table today collectively identified the problem, took action and we are collectively responsible for-for that fact.
Chair Jeff Miller: Mr. Thomas, you took great pains a second ago to talk about all the things that you tried to do. Can you explain why you were unable to do some of the things you wanted to do? Could you turn your mic on too, please?
Steven A. Thomas: Apologize. Yes, sir. I think what we have in this case is a changing industry to a certain degree. There are -- as you probably are aware, there's a lot of drug shortages that are currently going on right now. Uhm, there's the Trade Agreements Act that we have to be responsible for to make sure that products are coming from responsible countries and a lot of the manufacturing for drug -- for drugs right now are going overseas to India and China and those two countries are not trade agreement countries. So there's a number of issues going through there when we put our requirements contracts out for some of the generic products, we are able to award about a third of them as they came through. It didn't stop our efforts in that but it made us try to figure out how we could get more products on contract.
Thomas never shuts up. [*And I have no idea if he was saying CMA or what. He pronounced the term various ways throughout the hearing. I don't know it.] He offers a lot of blather about what he did for someone who broke the law. Miller wanted to know "how much was spent illegally after the 8th of November" 2011. Gould gave a response about how they didn't want the veterans to suffer. So Gould is arguing not only that the law was broken but that it was knowingly broken by the leadership composing the first panel. He went on for over two minutes and then swapped to Matkovsky and neither ever answered Miller's question as to how much was spent from November 8, 2011 through the end of the year?
Chair Jeff Miller: I apologize Mr. Secretary if I didn't hear you, but did you give me a number for what money was spent?
Philip Matkovsky: Two numbers. The first number for the month of December which we are still analyzing is roughly 1.4 million [dollars]. The total number of transactions which we are reviewing for ratification is 5,733 transactions.
Miller pointed out that this wasn't just about drugs, the spending. Gould admitted this was true.
Michaud asked if they had waivers for "the 1.2 billion in open market purchases dollars dating back to 2004" which led Gould to insist he needed to consult with the witnesses at the table followed by Frye stating, "Sir, I'm not familiar with your question. Waiver for what again?" Michaud attempted to jog their memories, "Waiver request for Open Market Purchases, that's required under the handbook." Still the panel was baffled by what he was talking about. Michaud then had to cite the rule specifically ("That's 7408.1") at which point it was immediately agreed that Michaud knew what he was talking about. But the waivers? Haggstron stated, "I'm not aware of any waivers."
The dummy up and pass the issue around was used repeatedly. So much that you might think they were trying to run out the clock on Michaud's questioning time.
US House Rep Phil Roe would ask a basic question, one that the witnesses should have known the answer to before they arrived at the hearing, "My second question is are there any penalties -- I know this is civil, not criminal -- but are there any penalties for the people who knowingly broke this law?"
The witnesses were unable to answer the second question and an attorney for the VA stood up and declared that "there are no penalties attached or sanctions attached." Had the VA fixed the problem -- as they claim -- and had they addressed it, then surely these seven VA leaders would have discussed whether or not criminal charges needed to be brought. The fact that they didn't know the answer indicates they never asked that question which would lead many to believe that they were only focused on damage control and not addressin the issues involved.
They played idiots very well. At one point, Chair Miller would ask them if they were aware, as they offered some interesting statements, that the Committee would have the documents in their possession and that a subpoena had been issued?
That would seem a rather basic question. But Gould especially (though not only) wanted to insist that there was no subpoena. He said there were Freedom of Information requests but no subpoena and wanted to argue this with the Chair.
Even after the Chair stated that US House Rep Darrell Issa issued the subpoena on January 19th (his Committee,on Oversight and Reform), they wanted to insist there was no subpoena. Then they wanted to add, maybe there was one, but it had not yet been received. After this ridiculous scene seemed in danger of never ending, "Counsel appears to be nodding to us that a subpoena has been issued." So, yes, there was a subpoena and that, yes, it had been received.
Again, the seven leaders at the table should have known that. Appearing before Congress to testify about records that the Congress is subpoenaing should be known. This group of leaders appeared completely disinterested in the topic being explored and not at all concerned about meeting oversight obligations.
"We need to fix this," Thomas said was the response in 2009 when the issue was first known (at least first known among the witnesses). "And we didn't fix it until recently?" Chair Miller asked. He received nothing resembling an answer.
Gould insisted that the 7 at the table (including himself) had identified the problem and "we addressed it in six weeks."
Chair Jeff Miller: Is it your testimony that the time frame between January of '09 and today is six weeks?
W. Scott Gould: No, Mr. Chairman, as I said a moment ago when you went down the list of folks here, when did senior management know? And I have testified that I knew in September. And by November 8th, the problem was solved.
Chair Jeff Miller: Does it bother you that you have somebody sitting at the table that knew of the issue in January '09 and you -- or somebody at that table -- did not know?
W. Scott Gould:Sir, of course it does and as I have testified that is a problem for which we are collectively responsible and accountable. I am very unhappy with this risk up the chain of command. All I'm saying is, that it did not happen and when it did it was absolutely solved by this team. We got together and resolved the issues and came up with a clear course of action to fix the problem.
But as Miller pointed out, the problem was known by at least Thomas in 2009. So, no, the issue was not dealt with in six weeks. As for taking accountability, a resignation or two would indicate that accountability was being taken. Instead, they want to pretend that the violation of the law doesn't matter because it's not criminal. And they want to pretend that taking nearly three years to address the situation after leadership first learned of the problem can be passed off as six weeks. There's no accountability, there's not even any honesty.
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