When I fell and injured my back at work in Washington, which required neurosurgery and removal of discs and pieces of my vertebrae, I was
condemned to a life of chronic pain and chronic incompetence of bureaucrats at the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP), an
ancient and corrupt program administered by the Department of Labor.
Based on OWCP policy, I am assigned a claims examiner who must authorize my medical requests. I have phoned my examiner over twenty
times this year with one response which was the wrong information given too late to be of any good to me.
As a federal worker with multiple service related disabilities, OWCP does not consider me worthy of medical care. If OWCP responds to my
requests for medical treatment, it is months late. When I pay for my own medical expenses, currently around $10,000, OWCP won’t pay for
medical treatment it authorized.
OWCP bureaucrats will not assist me in finding a physician who participates in their program, it is up to me find a physician. It is my “entitlement,” an OWCP bureaucrat told me, for me, as disabled as I am, to find my own physicians. Since few physicians in my area, San
Francisco, participate in OWCP, I am forced to pay out of pocket for non-participating physicians. OWCP bureaucrats told me to bill other
insurance providers. I reported this to my other, secondary, insurance carriers and they call this fraud. Congress would be aware of this
Aside from being arrogant and self-important, OWCP bureaucats like to act as though they are physicians. When my medical doctor prescribed medication for my OWCP “accepted” disability, OWCP bureaucrats did not approve it, until they got a letter from a member of Congress.
One physician advised me to send his medical recommendation for me to President Obama and ask him to forward it to Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez Jr. so they could “hopefully” circumvent OWCP inaction, indifference and incompetence. I have done this and Obama and Perez are no help for this sick and disabled federal worker.
My experience with OWCP “approved” physicians I could find has led me to file complaints of medical fraud with the Government Accountability Office, Office of Special Counsel, and the Office of Inspector General at the Labor Department.
In one case, an OWCP physician examined me and evaluated me without ever seeing me. In another case, a 2013 medical test for another
person was submitted to OWCP by an “approved” physician with my name on the first page. OWCP bureaucrats did not catch the fraud; I did
when I read past the first page. OWCP refuses to have the physician conduct another test.
In reponse to these legitimate complaints, OWCP bureaucrats are denying me medical treatment. That is fine with me. I will continue to pay for my care out of my savings until I deplete my bank accounts. After OWCP has bankrupted me, I will be forced to live on the streets and beg for food and money. That will be my reward for having served my country.
Until that time I plan to tell Congress OWCP is a totally corrupt system. It is a failure to disabled federal workers and it is a criminal operation. I urge Congress to reform this beastly, brutal and uncaring system and hold Secretary Perez accountable for it. The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee should immediately commence investigations.
Based on my experience, OWCP is a national disgrace and I fear its incompetent and corrupt bureaucrats will be promoted to work in other
healthcare programs and damage the lives of more Americans. Congress has an obligation to act.
Patterson is a San Francisco-based writer and speaker.
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