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Del. Anne Crockett-Stark’s days in office are numbered. She chose not to run for re-election this year, which means the four-term Republican from Wytheville has little more than a month to go.
But as her tenure in elective office winds down, the retired schoolteacher remains concerned about an issue that has proved eye-popping this year to many people in western Virginia.
It’s medical helicopters and the outrageous bills patients often get after they wind up in one during a medical emergency.
Below is an email Crockett-Stark recently received from a constituent (she redacted his name):
“I suffered a heart attack back in March of this year, and had to be airlifted to [Forsyth Medical Center in Winston-Salem] North Carolina. The doctor in the emergency room said I had to be airlifted, and not transported by ambulance.
“Once I got the bills for all the procedures, hospital, doctor and air transport, I was just shocked at the cost of a 30-minute flight! The total bill for such a ride was $32,000!!!
“I would like to know who regulates the amount that medical transport services can charge, and who thought this was a reasonable charge?
“It was almost enough to give me another heart attack.”
FOR THE ANSWER TO THIS QUESTION, AND THE REST OF THE COLUMN, CLICK HERE.
Behold Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, the budget-cutting, tax-reducing, freedom-loving Canadian equivalent of an American Tea Party politician. In recent months it’s come out that Ford has smoked crack, driven drunk (in Florida), bought illegal drugs (in the past two years), threatened to beat someone to death with his own hands and engaged in all kinds of other drunken debauchery — such as getting kicked out of a Toronto Maple Leafsgame. His brother (and Toronto councilor) has been accused in the Canadian press of being a teenage hashish kingpin. You thought it couldn’t get worse? It did — today.
Note from Dan: Ben Foutz is the father of Zac Foutz, one of hundreds of victims of the fungal meningitis outbreak a year ago that was linked to tainted medication prepared in a not-so-well regulated compounding pharmacy in Massachusetts. I wrote about them here. This week, Ben published an op-ed on the subject, More will suffer without action on compounding. Yesterday, Foutz sent me the email below.
Senator David Vitter — Republican from Louisiana — is the only senator who is refusing to allow a consent vote on the pending compounding legislation. Why?
He wants to defund part of the Affordable Care Act and he will not allow a vote until he can debate it on the floor of the Senate. It seems that even Ted Cruz has agreed to pass this legislation with no riders — so why is this particular senator a problem? You only need to google his name and read about his past history (unbelievable) to understand this Tea Party darling.
For over the past week, I have been trying to contact Senator Vitter. Today, I was on the phone for 30 minutes — holding for most of that time until I was given back to the intern who I spoke with last week. I had the intern look up the op-ed piece I wrote in the Roanoke Times on her computer and asked her to forward it to the senator; she could not guarantee he would receive it. Read more »
Note from Dan: Catherine Taylor moved from New York to Blacksburg in 2010. I’ve been looking into this and there’s more to the story that I’ll bring you next week. Make sure you read all the way to the end. And if something like this has happened to you, please drop me an e-mail and tell me that story.
By Catherine Taylor
Last night [Oct. 29] I was stopped on South Main Street in Blacksburg for a traffic violation. The officer gave me a short speech and no ticket, but when he checked my license it came back as listed “invalid” on the National Driving Register. Flummoxed, I asked what that meant. He said it was usually reserved for elderly people who could no longer operate a car for medical reasons.
I am 59 and healthy. My driving record, while not flawless, is clean. Having an “invalid” rating, however, means I cannot legally drive. “I’ve never run across this before,” he said, then told me to go straight home and go to the DMV first thing in the morning and get it “figured out.”
“Maybe it’s a clerical error,” he said. I would also have to go to traffic court and explain it there in order for it to be fully removed from my record.
This morning a helpful clerk at the Christiansburg DMV pulled my records up on her computer and told me the state of New York had me listed as having a “suspended license.” I moved here from Ithaca in 2010, but my record in New York was clean. The clerk told me I would need to call the New York DMV and get a “clearance letter” before she could reinstate my Virginia license. Read more »
Earlier this month I published a letter I sent to the presidents of Haier America Corp., which manufactures appliances such as air conditioners, freezers, TVs and washing machines. I’d sent the letter in August after spending most of the summer trying to get replacements for two parts I found broken when I unpacked a Haier AC that I’d purchased June 16.
The letter prompoted a call from a guy who called himself Jeff No-last-name. He said he was the company’s director of customer service.
One part Jeff was able to ship me quickly, even though his staff had earlier told me “Sir, there are NO parts.” The other part., a window panel with an oval-shaped hole in it, was kind of a challenge.
At first Jeff shipped a window panel with no hole. He called to ask if it had arrived and I said, “Yeah, but it’s the wrong one. It has no hole.”
He apologized and said he would ship a panel with the hole. He shipped two, in separate shipments that arrived on separate days. But each had a round hole and would not work with my unit.
He called again, and I informed him that I needed a panel with an oval hole. He apologized again, and said he’d ship the correct one. It arrived today.
Which means it only took 3 months and 1 week for that company to get me the parts that it should have sent me back in June. Of course, now it’s cooling off so we don’t need that basement AC!
The names and addresses for the company presidents are at the link above. I suggest that if you have a problem like mine, you should ignore Haier America’s customer service line and write directly to them if you have a problem with a product the company manufactures. Which apparently, many do.
You may to click on that second link before you buy anything from them, though.
Note from Dan: In Thursday’s column, I wrote about three women who have been put through the wringer navigating the confounding and frustrating Virginia workers compensation system, on behalf of loved ones injured on the job. One of them is Cathy Hockman, who lives in northeastern North Carolina, just across the border from Chesapeake. That’s where her son was working, in a Best Buy store, when he was injured in 2007. Tuesday I spent about 90 minutes on the phone with her. Below is a letter she wrote earlier this year to the Virginia Workers Compensation Commission. The original named her son and a specific attorney in the law firm of Midkiff, Muncie, and Ross; at Hockman’s request this version redacts both of those names.
Wednesday, February 27, 2013
To The Honorable Commissioner Williams:
The title Virginia Workers’ Compensation is an oxymoron. There is no real compensation in this curse of a system, put in place to protect the employers from law suits and to line the pockets of the greedy law firms who represent them, the insurance carriers, and their adjusters.
This system does not protect the injured worker; on the contrary it leaves him vulnerable, and allows him to be manipulated, humiliated, neglected, and rendered financially ruined.
The fifth anniversary of my son’s catastrophic workplace accident was December 11, 2012. Tragically his young life has been forever altered by his injuries. My son fell head first to the concrete floor in the warehouse of a Best Buy store in Chesapeake, VA. He suffered skull fractures, an epidural hematoma, which required a craniotomy, a ruptured ear drum, a sprained neck, a broken shoulder, a broken arm, a broken elbow, a broken wrist, and a dislocated knee.
The arm and knee injuries required closed reductions. He suffers from vision, cognitive, memory, and speech issues. He tests positive for seizure disorder. He suffers from severe debilitating headaches; he has been awarded all of his injuries and Lifetime Medical. He was just a part-time worker and full-time college student when he was thrust into this system. What has been more devastating than his horrific accident has been his treatment allowed by a system that has turned their back on him, and is a lie with its very name . . . The Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission.
Hey stuff happens, you know?
Cases like this are why tort reform is so necessary. This ornery woman, who’s apparently a union schoolteacher, will probably put this small nonunion company out of business when she files a lawsuit for wrongly snatching all her possessions. How dare she!? /snark off
Sorry — I got that wrong. Apparently you can still use Mother Teresa in a gun ad, no matter how ridiculous that seems on its face. Actually, the terrorists have won when you can’t use God to promote beer. So sayeth the wise holiday-weekend second-stringers at Fox News in the latest invented brewhaha.
Is this the latest nasty and dictatorial wrinkle of Obamacare? Nope. Fox & Friends kind of glosses over it, but it’s the Boston Brewing Company’s interpretation of voluntary industry guidelines that are to cause of this “blasphemy” (by the way, they can’t mention Santa Claus, either). How dare they let that industry self-regulate? The brewer shouldn’t be able to decide what’s proper and what’s not for themselves! Where’s the government when you need them?
What a (faux) outrage — but how typical of Fox. First they kevetched about taking Christ out of Christmas. Now they’re whining about taking God out of beer ads!
Remember the articles I wrote about the Alcoholic Beverage Control commission’s crackdown on a Roanoke bar because its customers weren’t buying enough food?
It appears that vexing issue has been vanquished across Virginia, along with all the other grievous violations of Virginia’s antiquated liquor laws. Every moonshine-producing still in Franklin County must have been shut down.
Because now, ABC agents are running undercover posses in supermarket parking lots, pouncing on college students purchasing water.
Elizabeth Daly, a 20-year-old student at the University of Virginia, found out about this the hard way. After she and her girlfriends purchased cookie dough, ice cream and a carton of water at a Harris Teeter, Daly’s car was surrounded in a parking lot by shouting plainclothes agents.
Daly, who was frightened, drove off. And for that she spent the night and most of the next day in jail. She was charged with three felonies, until a sensible prosecutor realized how silly the charges were under the circumstances.
I smell a lawsuit in the works — and maybe some extra training for the ABC agents.