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OWCP problems

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  • Kate Schachter
    Thank you for starting this action! I returned from Ghana on February 12, 2007. My 3rd-year extension, which I had started on, was medically revoked (not sure
    Message 1 of 6 , Nov 15, 2007
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      Thank you for starting this action! I returned from Ghana on February
      12, 2007. My 3rd-year extension, which I had started on, was medically
      revoked (not sure if that's the right term, but since I had completed
      my 2 years and started on an extension, it wasn't exactly a medical
      separation). I was given a fistful of PC-127C forms for followup
      medical care. Here are the specifics of my problem.

      First, I don't have a problem with Peace Corps. Though I had some
      trouble figuring out the procedure when I returned home (the
      requirement to clear *everything* with OMS before proceeding, even
      followup visits, and why different steps were important), I did sort it
      out, and the people at OMS were helpful.

      My problem is with OWCP, specifically in Chicago. I dealt at first with
      the Cleveland office, which was ok to work with (though I had some lack
      of follow through from one person on one aspect of my care). In June my
      case was referred to Chicago. They have been awful to work with.

      My concerns are at this level:
      1. There are problems with the call center in Chicago
      2. There are callback and processing problems with the case worker in
      Chicago
      3. There are misinformation problems with the entire system
      4. My provider has trouble with processing the bills

      So, some details:
      1. There are no toll-free calls; I dial 312-596-7157, and most of the
      time I have to wait on hold a minimum of 15 minutes before I get
      through to a person. (Of course, having said that, just today I got
      through on the first ring...for the first time...but my case worker
      was "not answering her phone" and I had to leave a message.)

      Many times while talking with the front line person (sometimes they can
      help, more often not), I can hear background chatter from the other
      call people, and I hear clear derogatory tones of voice and comments
      that I believe are about the clients they are working with...people
      like me. It does not seem a very supportive work environment to
      anyone...them or us.

      2. I have left multiple messages for my case worker (Ms. Cecilee Smart
      Griffin) over the last 5 months or so, and she never returns my calls.
      Sometimes I leave answering machine messages ("your call will be
      returned in 3 days." Ha!), and sometimes I leave a message with the
      front line person. The only way I ever get to speak with her is if she
      decides to answer her phone, or if she needs something from me, and I
      return *her* call (within 24 hours).

      In October I tried to get information about why she had suddenly
      changed my disability payment. I was able to speak with her at one
      point about it, and she wasn't at all helpful...at one point she told
      me it wasn't her job to tell me my rights. Followup calls were not
      returned, so, at the advice of PC-OMS, I decided to document the
      details of my concern about the payment in a letter. I cc'd PC-OMS and
      her supervisor, Mr. Craig Johnson, on that letter dated Oct. 21, and a
      followup one Oct 25 with new information and request. I have not
      received a callback or letter.

      I am also trying to get information about why reimbursements on
      medications and physical therapy treatment were denied, even though I
      had *everything* in order. No response.

      3. In July I learned that I had a new condition. I tried mightily to
      follow what I believed was the proper owcp procedure, but kept getting
      sent from person to person (when I could even get through). I finally
      learned that I needed to get a new PC-127C from PC-OMS...I learned this
      in a chance conversation with the OMS doctor, who happened to call and
      inquire about how I was doing. I submitted the proper paperwork and
      received prompt approval. But noone at owcp, in Chicago or Cleveland,
      seemed to have a proper answer.

      4. Most of my care has been handled through the University of Wisconsin
      Hospital, a large medical institution that is willing to work with me
      on the billing issues. I stay in touch with them, and they don't hassle
      me about unpaid bills. But there *are* unpaid bills, and it's not
      always clear why. They keep resubmitting, learning little pieces along
      the way, but clearly they're not finding the right proceess or people
      to help either.


      That's enough of an outline for now. I would be happy to give specific
      details with call dates and details at the appropriate moment to a
      lawyer, or whoever is handling the processing of this problem. The
      point is that I personally am ~$600 behind in disability payments and
      ~$300 behind in treatment or medication payments. I'm not sure how many
      thousands of dollars the hospital is yet to receive.

      It sounds like I'm one of the lucky ones.

      Thank you!
      Kate
      RPCV Ghana/2004-2007
      5241 Irish Lane
      Fitchburg, WI 53711
      Home: 608-442-0432
      Cell: 608-234-1795
    • Felicia
      Generally, one has the best luck writing letters rather than calling. Put each problem you need addressed in a new paragraph. Be polite. Keep copies of all
      Message 2 of 6 , Nov 16, 2007
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        Generally, one has the best luck writing letters rather
        than calling. Put each problem you need addressed in a
        new paragraph. Be polite. Keep copies of all
        correspondence. If there is something, like a previous
        letter or bill that you are referring to, copy it and
        highlight the section you are talking about in yellow
        highlighter. Keep your letter as short and to the point
        as possible. Very often, my bills don't get paid because
        the codes are wrong. I usually explain in my letter how
        the procedure that was billed for relates to my condition
        and ask why it wasn't paid. Also, I never pay for
        anything in advance if I don't have to. I get nasty
        bills, but just copy them, add some highlighter and then
        send a letter to OWCP asking why they weren't paid.

        Good luck! -- Felicia

        > Thank you for starting this action! I returned from Ghana
        > on February
        > 12, 2007. My 3rd-year extension, which I had started on,
        > was medically
        > revoked (not sure if that's the right term, but since I
        > had completed
        > my 2 years and started on an extension, it wasn't exactly
        > a medical
        > separation). I was given a fistful of PC-127C forms for
        > followup
        > medical care. Here are the specifics of my problem.
        >
        > First, I don't have a problem with Peace Corps. Though I
        > had some
        > trouble figuring out the procedure when I returned home
        > (the
        > requirement to clear *everything* with OMS before
        > proceeding, even
        > followup visits, and why different steps were important),
        > I did sort it
        > out, and the people at OMS were helpful.
        >
        > My problem is with OWCP, specifically in Chicago. I dealt
        > at first with
        > the Cleveland office, which was ok to work with (though I
        > had some lack
        > of follow through from one person on one aspect of my
        > care). In June my
        > case was referred to Chicago. They have been awful to work
        > with.
        >
        > My concerns are at this level:
        > 1. There are problems with the call center in Chicago
        > 2. There are callback and processing problems with the
        > case worker in
        > Chicago
        > 3. There are misinformation problems with the entire
        > system
        > 4. My provider has trouble with processing the bills
        >
        > So, some details:
        > 1. There are no toll-free calls; I dial 312-596-7157, and
        > most of the
        > time I have to wait on hold a minimum of 15 minutes before
        > I get
        > through to a person. (Of course, having said that, just
        > today I got
        > through on the first ring...for the first time...but my
        > case worker
        > was "not answering her phone" and I had to leave a
        > message.)
        >
        > Many times while talking with the front line person
        > (sometimes they can
        > help, more often not), I can hear background chatter from
        > the other
        > call people, and I hear clear derogatory tones of voice
        > and comments
        > that I believe are about the clients they are working
        > with...people
        > like me. It does not seem a very supportive work
        > environment to
        > anyone...them or us.
        >
        > 2. I have left multiple messages for my case worker (Ms.
        > Cecilee Smart
        > Griffin) over the last 5 months or so, and she never
        > returns my calls.
        > Sometimes I leave answering machine messages ("your call
        > will be
        > returned in 3 days." Ha!), and sometimes I leave a
        > message with the
        > front line person. The only way I ever get to speak with
        > her is if she
        > decides to answer her phone, or if she needs something
        > from me, and I
        > return *her* call (within 24 hours).
        >
        > In October I tried to get information about why she had
        > suddenly
        > changed my disability payment. I was able to speak with
        > her at one
        > point about it, and she wasn't at all helpful...at one
        > point she told
        > me it wasn't her job to tell me my rights. Followup calls
        > were not
        > returned, so, at the advice of PC-OMS, I decided to
        > document the
        > details of my concern about the payment in a letter. I
        > cc'd PC-OMS and
        > her supervisor, Mr. Craig Johnson, on that letter dated
        > Oct. 21, and a
        > followup one Oct 25 with new information and request. I
        > have not
        > received a callback or letter.
        >
        > I am also trying to get information about why
        > reimbursements on
        > medications and physical therapy treatment were denied,
        > even though I
        > had *everything* in order. No response.
        >
        > 3. In July I learned that I had a new condition. I tried
        > mightily to
        > follow what I believed was the proper owcp procedure, but
        > kept getting
        > sent from person to person (when I could even get
        > through). I finally
        > learned that I needed to get a new PC-127C from PC-OMS...I
        > learned this
        > in a chance conversation with the OMS doctor, who happened
        > to call and
        > inquire about how I was doing. I submitted the proper
        > paperwork and
        > received prompt approval. But noone at owcp, in Chicago or
        > Cleveland,
        > seemed to have a proper answer.
        >
        > 4. Most of my care has been handled through the University
        > of Wisconsin
        > Hospital, a large medical institution that is willing to
        > work with me
        > on the billing issues. I stay in touch with them, and they
        > don't hassle
        > me about unpaid bills. But there *are* unpaid bills, and
        > it's not
        > always clear why. They keep resubmitting, learning little
        > pieces along
        > the way, but clearly they're not finding the right
        > proceess or people
        > to help either.
        >
        >
        > That's enough of an outline for now. I would be happy to
        > give specific
        > details with call dates and details at the appropriate
        > moment to a
        > lawyer, or whoever is handling the processing of this
        > problem. The
        > point is that I personally am ~$600 behind in disability
        > payments and
        > ~$300 behind in treatment or medication payments. I'm not
        > sure how many
        > thousands of dollars the hospital is yet to receive.
        >
        > It sounds like I'm one of the lucky ones.
        >
        > Thank you!
        > Kate
        > RPCV Ghana/2004-2007
        > 5241 Irish Lane
        > Fitchburg, WI 53711
        > Home: 608-442-0432
        > Cell: 608-234-1795
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        > Yahoo! Groups Links
        >
        >
        >
        >
      • Kevin
        Kate, I tend to agree with Felicia. Letters often work better than phone calls, and they provide a paper trail that might come in handy in the future. If you
        Message 3 of 6 , Nov 16, 2007
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          Kate,

          I tend to agree with Felicia. Letters often work better than phone
          calls, and they provide a paper trail that might come in handy in the
          future.

          If you haven't already done so, you might want to contact your
          Congressman or one of your Senators. To get things rolling, call the
          local office and ask to talk with a caseworker who deals with OWCP.

          Kevin

          P.S. I would suggest that you cc all correspondence to the Post
          Service Unit and ask them to advocate on your behalf. They talk the
          talk ("We care about our RPCVs"), but they don't like to walk the
          walk. They may need some prodding, from you and your Senator, but
          you can get them to act if you're persistent. Please see message
          536, http://groups.yahoo.com/group/owcp/message/536 .

          --- In owcp@yahoogroups.com, "Felicia" <felicia@...> wrote:
          >
          > Generally, one has the best luck writing letters rather
          > than calling. Put each problem you need addressed in a
          > new paragraph. Be polite. Keep copies of all
          > correspondence. If there is something, like a previous
          > letter or bill that you are referring to, copy it and
          > highlight the section you are talking about in yellow
          > highlighter. Keep your letter as short and to the point
          > as possible. Very often, my bills don't get paid because
          > the codes are wrong. I usually explain in my letter how
          > the procedure that was billed for relates to my condition
          > and ask why it wasn't paid. Also, I never pay for
          > anything in advance if I don't have to. I get nasty
          > bills, but just copy them, add some highlighter and then
          > send a letter to OWCP asking why they weren't paid.
          >
          > Good luck! -- Felicia
        • RPCVLAJarvis@aol.com
          Also, make sure you keep going to the doctor. PC likes to pull the you were fine and didn t see anyone for a week, if it was that bad then you would have
          Message 4 of 6 , Nov 17, 2007
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            Also, make sure you keep going to the doctor.  PC likes to pull the "you were fine and didn't see anyone for a week, if it was that bad then you would have seen someone."  I heard that so many times.  Cause then they turn to, "you were fine for that week, so this illness must have happened in the states and that is not our issue, you are on your own."  Please, please keep seeing someone and have doctors document everything!  It is your only way out.  I ended up keeping a 2 inch binder of everthing!  I can't tell you how helpful this was for me.  Also ASAP get your PCMO's records.  It is really interesting reading those, half my stuff was never documented, but there was enough there to help my case.  It is a really long road, but it does end.  You just have to be strong and plow through it.  I broke a huge glass window one day after fighting with PC for hours and hours on the phone.  At the end of the phone call I threw the phone and it went through the window to the street.  Yes, it will be frustrating, but you are more important than any of this.  Take care of yourself and do all you can for you.
             
            Best of luck!
            --Lauralee
             
            ps where in CT, I might be able to help.  I have family in the medical profession there, plus it is where I ended up after PC...I was too sick to live on my own and stayed with my mom for months before I could return home to LA.




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          • Kevin
            Also, be sure to document every discussion that you have with Peace Corps. Based on some recent contact that I ve had with OMS, I m convinced that they are
            Message 5 of 6 , Nov 17, 2007
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              Also, be sure to document every discussion that you have with Peace
              Corps. Based on some recent contact that I've had with OMS, I'm
              convinced that they are sloppy, misinformed and, in the case of one
              nurse case manager, dishonest!


              --- In owcp@yahoogroups.com, RPCVLAJarvis@... wrote:
              >
              > Also, make sure you keep going to the doctor. PC likes to pull
              the "you
              > were fine and didn't see anyone for a week, if it was that bad then
              you would
              > have seen someone." I heard that so many times. Cause then they
              turn to, "you
              > were fine for that week, so this illness must have happened in the
              states
              > and that is not our issue, you are on your own." Please, please
              keep seeing
              > someone and have doctors document everything! It is your only way
              out. I
              > ended up keeping a 2 inch binder of everthing! I can't tell you
              how helpful this
              > was for me. Also ASAP get your PCMO's records. It is really
              interesting
              > reading those, half my stuff was never documented, but there was
              enough there
              > to help my case. It is a really long road, but it does end. You
              just have to
              > be strong and plow through it. I broke a huge glass window one
              day after
              > fighting with PC for hours and hours on the phone. At the end of
              the phone
              > call I threw the phone and it went through the window to the
              street. Yes, it
              > will be frustrating, but you are more important than any of this.
              Take care of
              > yourself and do all you can for you.
              >
              > Best of luck!
              > --Lauralee
              >
              > ps where in CT, I might be able to help. I have family in the
              medical
              > profession there, plus it is where I ended up after PC...I was too
              sick to live on
              > my own and stayed with my mom for months before I could return home
              to LA.
              >
              >
              >
              > ************************************** See what's new at
              http://www.aol.com
              >
            • FourDirect@aol.com
              In a message dated 11/17/2007 5:42:47 P.M. Eastern Standard Time, owcp2004@yahoo.com writes: Also, be sure to document every discussion that you have with
              Message 6 of 6 , Nov 17, 2007
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                In a message dated 11/17/2007 5:42:47 P.M. Eastern Standard Time, owcp2004@... writes:
                Also, be sure to document every discussion that you have with Peace
                Corps. Based on some recent contact that I've had with OMS, I'm
                convinced that they are sloppy, misinformed and, in the case of one
                nurse case manager, dishonest!
                Yes, This is really important! Keep ledgers of everything said.
                 




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