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Injured War Zone Contractors Fight to Get Care From AIG and Other Insurers

Contractor Tim Newman, left; contractor Kevin Smith-Idol, middle; widow Rita Richardson, whose husband was killed by a roadside blast in Iraq. (Photos courtesy of Tim Newman, ABC News, Francine Orr/Los Angeles Times)

Reporting from Los Angeles and Washington — Civilian workers who suffered devastating injuries while supporting the U.S. war effort in Iraq and Afghanistan have come home to a grinding battle for basic medical care, artificial limbs, psychological counseling and other services.

The insurance companies responsible for their treatment under taxpayer-funded policies have routinely denied the most serious medical claims. Those insurers -- primarily American International Group (AIG) -- recorded hundreds of millions of dollars in profits on this business.

The civilian contractors have played an indispensable role in the two conflicts, delivering fuel to frontline troops, guarding U.S. diplomats and translating for soldiers during dangerous raids. More than 1,400 civilian workers have died and 31,000 have been wounded or injured in the two war zones.

Yet unlike wounded soldiers, who are offered health care, rehabilitation and support services by the military, the civilians have to battle a federally supervised insurance system marked by high costs and excessive delays, an investigation by the Los Angeles Times, ABC News and ProPublica has found.

In contrast to the public outcry over squalid conditions at some military hospitals, the contractors' plight has drawn little attention.

Tim Newman (Photo courtesy of Tim Newman)"It's almost like we're this invisible, discardable military. Once we've done our jobs, they can actually sidetrack us and not worry about us anymore," said Tim Newman, a sheriff's deputy from South Carolina who lost his leg to a roadside bomb in Baghdad. Once back home, he fought an insurance company for a year to get a prosthetic leg that his doctors recommended.

"It's like we're disposable soldiers," said Newman, 44, who worked on a police training program in Iraq.

The insurance system for civilian contractors has generated profits for the providers, primarily AIG, the war zone's dominant player. Insurers collected more than $1.5 billion in premiums paid by U.S. taxpayers and have earned nearly $600 million in profit, according to congressional investigators.

A military audit deemed AIG's premiums "unreasonably high."

Insurance companies initially rejected 44 percent of claims from contractors involving serious injuries and more than half of all claims related to psychological stress, records show. As a result, civilians maimed or traumatized in the war zone often must wage lengthy court battles for medical care and benefits.

The high denial rate is partly due to government rules that give insurers only 14 days to decide the validity of a claim. Insurers often reject first and investigate later.

Those case-by-case investigations are usually resolved through mediation. When the two sides can't agree -- as has happened in more than 1,000 cases -- the dispute winds up in court. Workers win such appeals in 75 percent of cases, records show, but the process can last months or years.

Kevin Smith, 38, a truck driver from Abilene, Texas, was severely injured when his supply convoy was ambushed by insurgents outside Baghdad in 2004.

A round pierced his unarmored truck, shattering his left leg. He underwent a series of surgeries and a painful rehabilitation. Back home in Texas, he suffered nightmares and flashbacks. He awoke one night to hear the washing machine thumping and for a moment thought it was insurgent gunfire. A psychologist diagnosed him with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Kevin Smith (Photo courtesy of ABC News)Months later, AIG -- the insurance carrier for Smith's employer, defense contractor KBR -- stopped paying the injured trucker's medical bills, saying his recovery was complete. In November 2007, AIG also stopped disability payments to Smith, although its own hired expert had agreed that he was partially disabled.

With medical bills piling up and a wife and baby to support, Smith went back to work driving a truck, though he said he was in pain and woozy from medication.

In December 2008 -- four and a half years after he was injured in Iraq -- an administrative law judge for the U.S. Department of Labor ordered AIG to pay all Smith's medical bills and disability payments.

Judge C. Richard Avery ruled that the insurer had failed "to offer any medical evidence" supporting its position that Smith's PTSD was not caused by the convoy attack. Smith, the judge said, "has shown extraordinary effort in returning to work against the recommendations of his treating physicians and in spite of considerable physical pain."

AIG has appealed. It has yet to pay Smith's outstanding medical bills.

"We don't want million-dollar bonuses. We want what we deserve. That's it," Smith said. "Anybody, anybody that goes into a war situation and does something for their country deserves some kind of honor, some kind of dignity."

AIG declined to comment on individual cases. But the company defended its overall handling of war zone claims, initially saying it paid 90 percent of contractors' claims without protest. Questioned about the Times-ProPublica findings, the insurer modified its statement, saying "the vast majority" are paid without dispute "when the proper supporting medical evidence has been received."

Like Workers' Comp

The insurance program for civilian contractors is roughly equivalent to the workers' compensation programs in which U.S. companies buy insurance to cover workplace injuries.

Under a World War II-era law known as the Defense Base Act, companies working under U.S. contracts in Iraq or Afghanistan must purchase insurance that pays for medical care and disability benefits for workers injured on the job, as well as death benefits for those killed. Taxpayers ultimately pay the cost, because the premiums are built into companies' contracts with the government.

When an injury or death is the result of hostile action, such as a roadside bomb or insurgent ambush, the government directly reimburses the insurer in full for any benefits paid -- plus a 15 percent processing fee. Such cases are believed to be a small percentage of all war zone claims, but they account for the most serious injuries and the largest medical costs.

The system, created in an era when the U.S. military made sparing use of civilian contractors, handled a few hundred claims a year. Then the U.S. invaded Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003.

In both conflicts, the Pentagon has relied heavily on civilians to guard bases, drive supply trucks, cook meals and do other work once done by soldiers. There were 200,000 contractors in the war zone last year, more than the peak number of military personnel.

The number of civilians filing injury claims under the Defense Base Act soared twentyfold between 2003 and 2007, reaching 11,000 per year before falling to just under 6,000 last year. Total payments for health care and other benefits rose fourteenfold during the first four years of the Iraq war, to more than $170 million annually.

Before the wars, Defense Base Act insurance typically cost about 2 percent to 5 percent of a contractor's payroll, according to Government Accountability Office audits. That cost typically was billed to the government as part of the contract price.

After 2002, insurance companies quadrupled their premiums, according to a 2005 GAO report. Early in the Iraq war, insurance brokers charged prices for premiums that in some cases equaled the salaries of the insured workers. In other words, it cost taxpayers $100,000 per year to insure a civilian paid $100,000 per year.

"It was a market that was out of control," said Sara Payne, a senior vice president for Rutherfoord, an insurance broker.

AIG worked aggressively to be the dominant player. Maurice "Hank" Greenberg, then AIG's chief executive, visited Iraq in early 2004, and in 2005 his company opened an office in Dubai to handle injury claims filed by foreigners working on U.S. contracts. Later, the company helped open a clinic in Iraq to treat injured Iraqi contractors.

Greenberg, who left AIG in 2005, said the company's motives were both profit and patriotism.

"I felt that we should begin to provide coverage for those American contractors who were going to operate there," he said in an interview. "Without that kind of coverage, a lot of contractors wouldn't go."

AIG held a near-monopoly on workers' compensation coverage in Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2007, the company processed nearly nine of every 10 injured-civilian claims filed in the war zones, records show.

AIG's dominance made it difficult for defense contractors to shop for lower premiums.

"There really was no market," said Jack Martone, a former senior official in the Labor Department. "The market was AIG."

The other major firms providing workers' compensation policies in the two war zones are Continental Casualty Co. (CCC), based in Chicago, ACE Ltd. of Bermuda and the Chubb Group, based in New Jersey.

They and other insurers are responsible for the current and continuing claims of more than 31,000 civilian workers injured in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as for payments to the families of more than 1,400 contractors who died in the war zones.

Congressional investigators calculated last year that insurance companies had collected $1.5 billion in premiums. They estimated that the companies would spend about $900 million in compensation and expenses -- leaving a profit of about $600 million.

An Army Audit Agency report in 2007 said that AIG's premiums were "unreasonably high and excessive." AIG charged contracting giant KBR $284 million in premiums on a single insurance contract from 2003 to 2005. AIG is expected to pay $73 million for the care of injured KBR workers, the audit found.

Insurance officials said the high premiums they charged in the early years of the conflicts reflected uncertainty over the risks of insuring employees in a war zone and on such a large scale.

War zone insurance is unlike any other kind of coverage. Once U.S. military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan ends, the insurers will lack a reliable stream of future premiums to cover the costs of past claims, some of which will require decades of compensation. Thus, the insurers say, they had to charge more up front.

Premiums have declined as underwriters have gained a better understanding of the risks, industry officials noted. Today, companies operating in Iraq and Afghanistan are paying 3 percent to 17 percent of their payrolls for insurance -- above historical norms but below the premiums charged initially.

"You don't know when starting out whether the rates are adequate or inadequate. How the hell do you know?" Greenberg said. "We charged what we needed to cover the risk."

'Lack of Compliance'

The U.S. Labor Department, which oversees the insurance program for civilian contractors, has struggled to handle a greatly increased workload without adding staff or boosting funding.

The department has fined only a handful of companies, despite indications that scores of worker injuries and deaths have gone unreported in Afghanistan and Iraq. Nor has the department pursued criminal sanctions for companies that failed to obtain workers' compensation insurance, as required by law.

Linda Skoug, 47, helps her husband Russell Skoug, 48, on with his shoes and socks early in the morning on Sept. 6, 2007. (Francine Orr/Los Angeles Times)Russell Skoug of Diboll, Texas, who lost part of his leg in a roadside bomb explosion, has had to delay surgery while he fights his employer, Wolfpack Security and Logistics, for compensation. The company failed to purchase the mandatory insurance before Skoug was maimed.

"It's agonizing," said Skoug, a mechanic who repaired air conditioners in Iraq.

Wolfpack President Mark Atwood said he had not known about the insurance requirement. "People coming over there should understand they're not walking down a rose garden," he said. "Don't go crying foul when you've injured yourself."

The company, now out of business, paid some of Skoug's bills after losing a court battle.

Shelby Hallmark, the Labor Department official overseeing the civilian insurance program, said there had been a "complete lack of compliance" in the early days of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Asked why the government has not sought criminal penalties against companies that neglected to purchase war zone insurance, Labor officials said in a statement that they considered referring one such case to the Justice Department, but did not. In the past, Justice has shown a reluctance to prosecute such cases, which are misdemeanors.

"It's not an enforcement kind of program. Enforcement is not the function," Hallmark said.

The department also relies on companies to keep employees informed of insurance benefits available to war zone workers.

Yet Rita Richardson had no idea that she was eligible for compensation after her husband, Rod, was killed by a roadside blast in Iraq while working as a contractor for Falcon Security.

After advice from friends of the former Marine Corps lieutenant colonel, Rita spent a year squabbling with the Labor Department and ACE, the insurer, to receive benefits.

Rita Richardson of Gardnerville, Nev., rests beneath a tree as it begins to snow. She walks to a spot in the mountains near her home where she has shaped a heart in small stones. She feels connected to her late husband Rod Richardson, who was killed in Iraq when his convoy was struck by an IED on Oct. 6, 2006. (Francine Orr/ Los Angeles Times)"My husband's blood is the same as anybody else's," she said. "It didn't matter that he didn't have on a uniform. He died serving his country."

ACE declined to comment.

Hallmark acknowledged that the agency was "struggling" to keep up with the flood of claims. He called the Defense Base Act program an "insurance-driven" system in which the Labor Department has little power.

Labor officials "don't have any authority. They can't tell an insurer you must pay," he said. "All they can do is try to encourage people to do the right thing."

Contested Claims

AIG said that it pays the "vast majority" of claims without dispute. And the Labor Department has said that only about 8 percent of claims are contested. However, the Times-ProPublica investigation found those statistics misleading because insurance companies rarely contest minor claims, which account for the vast bulk. They are much more likely to dispute claims involving serious injuries.

When an injury resulted in more than four days of lost work -- about 9,000 of 31,000 total war zone claims -- insurers filed a protest in nearly half of the cases. Even when a worker was killed, the companies filed protests in more than a third of the cases.

Insurance firms protested more than half of all claims involving PTSD.

The Labor Department has made a priority of resolving disputed war zone cases through mediation between insurers and workers. Such disputes take an average of six to seven months to be resolved.

A case fought all the way to a courtroom, however, typically takes an average of two years until a final judgment is ordered, according to an analysis of court files.

"The problem that we see a lot is where injuries occur overseas, the knee-jerk reaction is the insurance company says, 'I can't pay right now, I don't have documentation,'" said Miranda Chiu, Labor's director of policy for Defense Base Act claims. "They drop the ball."

The most contentious issue is pay. Disability and death benefits are based upon how much a worker earned during the last year. When contractors are injured or killed after only a few weeks or months in Iraq, disputes often arise over whether payments should be based on what they earned in Iraq or what they were paid previously in the U.S., usually a much lower figure -- or on an average of the two.

Teresa Hyatt's husband, Gene, was killed in an industrial accident in Iraq in 2005, six months after he started working.

AIG began sending her $555 per week. For two years, Hyatt fought the insurer in court, contending that the payments were lower than her husband's salary. She had to sell her home to pay her bills. Finally, in July 2007, a judge determined that AIG had been systematically underpaying. Her payments increased to nearly $900 a week.

"I was degraded, disgraced," said Hyatt. "They took advantage of me wholeheartedly."

This is the first in a series of occasional articles on the plight of civilian workers injured in Iraq and Afghanistan. T. Christian Miller, a former Times staff writer, did much of the reporting for the series before leaving the newspaper last year. He continued to report on the issue for ProPublica, an independent, nonprofit investigative newsroom in New York where he is now a senior reporter. Doug Smith is the Times' director of database reporting.

Marcie Hascall Clark

April 17, 2009, 10:13 a.m.

According to the terms of the Defense Base Act
http://www.globalriskbroker.com/PDF Files/DEFENSE BASE ACT Informative -eGHIA.pdf

The U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP), Division
of Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation, administers the Defense Base Act, ensuring
that workers’ compensation benefits are provided for covered employees promptly and correctly.

it is the responsibility of the Department of Labor to take care of this, and they have not.

This story is long over due-thank you! 

AIG’s handling of regular domestic Workers’ Compensation claims is no better.  It is a constant fight to get adequate and appropriate medical care, and to get AIG to pay for the services.  It took one and one half years for my husband to get a working prosthetic.  We are in court regularly and we have never lost at hearing.  I had to leave my job to care for my husband, as AIG failed to provide reliable ongoing care.  I have never been compensated for my services. 

When I am not caring for him, I spend my time on mountains of paper work. 

We are not beggars, we simply want the services that were paid for and to be treated like valued customers instead of people trying to scam the system.  It is a horror show, and now we get to pay again with our tax dollars to bail these guys out!

To make matters worse, each state has their own regulations governing Workers Compensation.  Our state regulations are draconian.  We have no choice of providers.  AIG has unilateral decision making authority.  It is a system of zero choice.

Delay and deny is AIG’s hallmark, regardless of how life threatening the situation is.  It is dangerous and demeaning and has cost many people their lives.

How can AIG say that they are paying DBA contractor claims when one of their own attorneys published a book on how NOT TO PAY THE CLAIMS (Defense Base Act and War Hazards Compensation Act Handbook 2008 Edition by Roger A. Levy).

We, the injured contractors, need to speak up and speak loudly . . we took these jobs to support the military and if we don’t keep speaking out then the big corporations will win and eventually the troops will suffer because no one will take the overseas jobs to support the troops.

Thanks to those of you that have spoke out and it is my hope that many more will come forward.

Marcie Hascall Clark

April 17, 2009, 1:11 p.m.

I’m not sure if everyone is aware that the DBA premiums the Contract Company pays to AIG and CNA are cost reimbursable to them under the US Government Contracts.

The taxpayer is paying the inflated premium in addition to reimbursing the War Hazards claims.

These reimbursments include the insurance companies defense lawyers and whatever fees they care to run up for Independent Medical Evaluations, depositions, spying on claimants, etc.  The injured worker rarely can afford such a defense.

The injured contractor is treated as though they are a lying, cheating, criminal from the day they are injured.
My family has been living under a cloud since the day we were unwittingly dropped into this hellhole.

First i would like to say thanks for standing up for everyone of the contractors who work overseas or have worked overseas.
To say this instrument of screwing the American contractor is “hell”.Well your a very kind person to say that.I dont call anything what these insurance companies do as hell.I would say its criminal and when its criminal then you would think someone with any common since would step in such as congress,senate,etc…OOOOPPPS SORRY did i say that.The government want really help the boots on the ground 100 percent as they should so why would i expect the government to help us.My apologies for thinking again.
I would like to say that i really appreciate everyone who goes to any base in support of this bs war and takes a risk to help the troops or themselves for what ever reason they seem fit to go.
I have been injured at work doing my job and i have been going through this criminal three ring circus for sometime now.Im very fortunate to not been injured by a bomb or bullet but i sustained an injury just doing my job.It doesnt matter to these big fat idiots if your armless,homeless,you were shot or just twiested your back.You are a throw away liability.I can only speak for myself here and what i feel about my situation.I have friends who are hurt and are going through the criminal bs also.Yes its a physical hurt but what these idiots do to you after your hurt is torture.Medical,mental ,torture.I pray that someday somwhere someone will pull there head out of there ass and see and stop this criminal activity.Its kinda strange here in our country.We can go to jail for hurting animals.Hmmmm…..i wonder who the animal really is here?I could go on and on but i guess i wil stop here.Thanks for the memories is was worth it for whatever i had to go through for my country,for the troops.God Bless

My husband was injured in Iraq by a roadside bomb in 2007. He returned to the states just in time to see the Walter Reed scandal unfold in the press and he felt so guilty because he was being well cared for by AIG. I am an insurance agent and told him not to worry that I could help him through this. I have researched the longshore harbor act & defense base act. Everything was going ok until the AIG scandal came out. All of the sudden we had a new adjuster who forced us to go to doctors appointments to push his release. the doctor couldn’t do anything until he had two working prosthectis and a shower leg. The caseworker asked if he could be MMA’d? (I don’t remember what that meat) and the doc said yes. The doctror made specific notes that his release was onlywhen he had 2 legs & shower leg. AIG continued to pay benefits but reimbursements for mileage to doctor. AIG records now reflect he was released backdating his release to January. My husband still does not have properly working equipment. In March AIG hired a fraud investigator to come “interview” him. The following week there were blacked out SUV’s following us and one even “stalked” my 17 y/I son while sitting ON MY PROPERTY.  I have filed criminal tresspass charges. Makes you wonder though why hire fraud invesstigators (by the way they are named Veracity Research Group—look them up). And cutoff his payments completely. when we asked to speak to a supervisor of Ms. Brown she did a 180 for about a week andcalled profusely apologizing. Whatever. They are now back to the same ole politics. No return phone calls, no emails. It was so surreal to see the 20/20 last night, and to see others just like my husband out there. I had hoped my 20 years experience in insurance would help out and to an extent it has. They haven’t been able to produce anything in writing for their guidelines in their claims paying proceedures. we wanted to give AIG a chance to show they weren’t so bad. We didn’t run and get an attorney. It looks like now we don’t have a choice.  Thank you for putting the story out there. This needs to be exposed. And I am cancelling my contract with AIG. I can’t in good faith place customers with them. Aside from the fact that they would be paying AIG premiums to get their tax dollars back, to know they won’t take care of them if there’s a claim—well now we know it just depends on the size of the claim. Oh and one more thing—seen the commercials for 21st Century Insurance?  Guess who that is??? Yep you got it. AIG’s new name for personal lines insurance. Buyer beware.

Marcie Hascall Clark

April 18, 2009, 8:19 a.m.

Roger Levy, defense lawyer for AIG and CNA, conveniently has his own spy company, Forensic Technology Pty Ltd, according to this article http://customerinsightblog.wordpress.com/2008/09/25/leximancer-in-application/.
The taxpayer is paying for these investigative services to the insurance companies.
The injured worker normally cannot afford his house payments much less the expenses of fighting these low life tactics.

These men are being paid much more than our military to be in harms way, they know the risk.  Their employers should have a medical plan to cover major emergencies.  If they don’t, then the individuals should purchase their own medical insurance. 

Cheney wanted to privatize everything, his policy created this situation.  We should roll back everything - keep military zones for military personnel who get VA care.

Being paid pennies or benjamins doesn’t excuse insurance companies from not holding up to there responsibilty to the insured individual.
These companies AIG,CNA etc… know exactly what there doing.
It seems your one of those people who dont have a clue on what the military needs to operate.Civilians are needed because of Clintons downsizing of our military.Reagon had our military at a high that civilians werent needed as they are now.Then Clinton comes along and cuts the military in half at least.
If it wasnt for the civilians who go risk there lives our military wouldnt be able to protect ???? like you.
I was in the arena to help the troops.I would have done it for much less pay or more pay.
It seems you have no clue what so ever about what really happens over there.
Having to live among the muslim world not on a base,no medical care when are injured,you cant go see a military doctor ,you have to see doctors that dont speak english and have cultural gaps.You see pundit.Your safe in your home and if you get hurt you go to a doctor who can understand you ,one that has test at his peckoning call,medications ,etc…
You see i had insurance like you complain about.What good does it do you when there are no doctors that are qualified,they dont believe in pain meds in the middle east so your screwed that way because you cant go to the military base and get any meds because the army doesnt recognize you and are told you cant get treatment.So what would you do?
I know you would do what ever you could to get care.Thats all we want people.What is legally ours.Look theres way more going on overthere than your in your living room.Good grief.
You should feel fortunate that people go over there to help but you dont it seems and thats more shameful than waht these insurance companises do.
So sit in your protected little world and let the people and troops who care for whatever reason do there job and you go on living your life in the safety of your little lost world.

Marcie Hascall Clark

April 18, 2009, 11:42 a.m.

The extensive use of contractors enabled these wars and enabled the cover up of the true costs,
both financial and in lives ruined and lost.
It’s still working.

Define major emergency? And I’m afraid you’re not getting the picture here. KBR DID purchase insurance and the company is not paying. Of course these men and women knew this was a dangerous situation. Yes there is a chance of getting hurt. That is why they are paid “hazard pay” based on where you go. I agree the military deserves way more than what they earn. But many of these people are former military. There are roundabout figures of 150000 contractors assisting the military overseas. 1 contractor can save 3 military personnel for their true jobs. Defending our rights and freedoms. They are risking their lives to help (unarmed mind you). Please don’t knock them for that. I simply ask you one favor—go stand in front of your shower and stand on one leg and figure out how you would get in there.  I’m not trying to come across as a smarta..  But please understand the whole picture.

Marcie Hascall Clark

April 18, 2009, 5:16 p.m.

“The problem that we see a lot is where injuries occur overseas, the knee-jerk reaction is the insurance company says, ‘I can’t pay right now, I don’t have documentation,’” said Miranda Chiu, Labor’s director of policy for Defense Base Act claims. “They drop the ball.”

Quick, somebody get Miranda a copy of her ex boss and AIG/CNA defense lawyer Roger Levy’s book on the Defense Base Act.

With few if any exceptions the DBA is for overseas workers, you know, the ones that are injured working overseas.  Would they like that documentation in blood?

AIG and CNA wouldn’t be allowed to “drop the ball” as a matter of rule if the DoL was anywhere near the park.

Hi All

My name is Daniel Brink. I worked with Tim Newman at Dyncorp and was injured during December 2005. I’m from South Africa and have the same problems with CNA Global. I also lost my leg and most of my fingers in an EFP/IED explosion in Baquba. My medical debts are not paid. My credit has been revoked and the bank has repossessed my house. I have lost so much because CNA Global does not want to pay me debts.

Dyncorp invited me to the alumni launch in Texas with the promise of a job as the CEAP rep for South Africa. Nothing ever came of it even though i have all the e-mails to prove their promises.

CNA Has recently sent me a letter from their attorney stating that i have reached MMI based on a finding from a doctor that they employ. I still have major surgery ahead of me for the next two years. What a load of “Bulls@$%$it”.

I met Chritstian T at the CEAP Launch and he is a greatr guy. Thanks to him and others, Companies like CNA and AIG are exposed as the only regulated Mafia of the Insurance industry.

I leave you with this information:

“I arranged for a meeting with CNA Global and Donna Sprags. The nursecase manager Jody Mcewan arranged the meeting In Chicago at the offices of CNA Global. Im left South Africa with a Medic, a Nurse and my wife.

Whe i arriverd at the building of CNA i was told tghat shwe will not see me and was thrown out of the building by security”. The trip cost me $15 000 and i have outstanding medical debts of $150 000.

THIS IS HOW CNA GLOBAL TREATS FOREIGN DBA CLAIMANTS

PLEASE HELP ME

Marcie Hascall Clark

April 20, 2009, 3:23 p.m.

Daniel
I’m so sorry that CNA is doing this to you too but am so glad that you are sharing this publicly.

There is nothing in the Defense Base Act that says the insurance company has to pay the bills in a timely manner.
They have no incentive to worry about it.  We also had/have a myriad of unpaid medical bills on our credit.
The ones from Walter Reed show up as “serious deliquencies” to the Treasury Department.  No mention that they are medical bills.

CNA and their lawyers think they are entitled to make major medical decisions for injured contractors and evidently no one gives a damn because they get away with it every day.  They recently refused a bomb blast victim screening for TBI, the signature injury of the Iraq War.

They should be liable for loss of potential recovery that is lost every time they put off necessary health care.  I don’t remember reading anything about
“Exclusive Remedy” when it comes to medical negligence caused by the insurance company.

Email me Daniel, anyone else in this sinking boat   .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

I am not sure what it is going to take to make them take notice of our families.  I can say that when I read this article and saw the 20/20 show at least I knew that I wasn’t alone anymore.  We are scattered all over the world.  I know that everything can be to much at times.  It is nice to know that we are not a lone anymore yelling at the phone.  Hang in there I figure someone has to come to our resue sometime.  Maybe we all need to go stand infront of the DOL so they have faces with the paperwork.

This issue has so many points of different opinions but a few things are certian.  The US cannot wage total or even limited wars without contractors, professional instructors and all the other needed skills that our military would go broke maintaining during peacetime and the system of caring for these specialized contract employees is flawed.  The DBA is actually a good statute but it lacks teeth for DoL to truely administer and it needs to be updated and revisited far more often than it has been.  There are so many small details that could be corrected and the system improved but as I said to T we are viewed as “disposable”, congress and many employers think the issue and our value will fade with the end of a conflict.  Many contract employers know that contracts will end and that they have a never ending supply of people ready to make the quick dollar.  The best advice I give potential contractors is research your employer and go with the ones with the best infrastructure and the best reputation.  When it come to the DBA coverage you can’t do that, companies are limited to the few and the greedy.  I was told long ago by someone I really respect that when it comes to the DBA insurance companies that there are only two types, The “Evil” and the “Stupid”.  I can only speak for the few employers I have personal experience with and say that the majority of them actually care and want their employees cared for, unfortunately their commitment, work ethics and goals are not shared by AIG, CNA or the like.  The one thing I find hard to accept is that these contract giants have no input with the companies they pay to cover their employees and are mostly prohibited from getting involved.  As for the insurance companies they are truely a waste, I have seen them ignore and side-step their own legal councils advice, the directions of the DoL and the moral right to waste time and money fighting a pointless issue.  I am always ready to talk or discuss this issue with anyone.  Feel free to contact me at sctopcop@hotmail, also, Daniel, I miss you and pray for you and our friends daily.  Please email me and lets see if we can change the world.

Hi Tim
My good friend. I miss you allot and need to come to the states to see you. We have local program called “Special assignment” who is going to do a story on me and other South Africans returning from Iraq And Afghanistan. The national news agency has also show an interest in my plight for my fellow country men. I have started an organization for my brothers to assist them with DBA claims and other issues. Civpol Alumni has failed me and so did Mike Warren of Dyncorp. Mike your are lying deceiving snake. I am hiring the services of Terry Collingsworth of IR Advocates to sue you and Dyncorp. I have proof of my employment offers from Dyncorp. They owed me by my calculations $60 000. I’m gonna get my money or else…...

I’m taking no more crap from CNA and will expose them for who they are. They have messed with the wrong South African.CNA has appointed a company by the name of Vetted International to assist all South Africans with medical claims administration. Tyler Keegy who is also a Iraq contractor veteran assisted me such allot of issues. Good one Brian Sjostedt and Tyler.

Their contract was recently stopped because of reasons unknown to me.

We need to stand united before the CNA/AIG mountain as brothers from all over the world. Together we must unite and let our voices be heard. I sent a letter to the offices of Nelson Mandela to request intervention in this matter. Hopefully President Obama will listen to reason and assist the brother who fought side by side to free the world of terror.

The Civpol Alumni was sent several e-mails to assist the South Africans and also to update their database with the information of our fallen heroes. I have yet to get a response in two years.

I Daniel Brink will be my brothers keeper seeing the Civpol alumni does not want to take care of us. The alumni has furthermore forgotten the role the South Africans has played in the struggle on terror.

Here is the facts and stats:

South African deaths: 35 (Dyncorp 8)

South Africans Injured: 75 (Dyncorp 13)

By the way my friend…. I’m know applying for a power knee. The RHEO Knee does not assist me to walk. Because of your courage and the case at DOL you have assisted me with the ammunition to apply for the Power Knee.

Your in my prayers Tim and will see you one of these day’s
Daniel Brink

This is something that I found.  I thought everyone might like to see what I found on a public site from a CNA employee. 

http://www.linkedin.com/in/justinpribyl

JUST LOOK HOW I HAVE TO BATTLE TO GET MEDICATION. THIS E-MAIL WAS ADRESSED TO DONNA SRPAGS.

Donna

I’m disputing the facts as per your attorney’s letter claiming I have reached MMI. The fact that I need medication on a continuous base has nothing to do with the fact that have an attorney.

In the time that you used the services of Roger Levy you continued to speak to me via e-mail. Please stop ignoring Unitas’s request to provide me with medication. You sent them a letter requesting that they forward all detail about the medication that i need.

If I do not receive my medication, my health would seriously be affected. IF my health is affected as a result of your refusal to talk to me, I would not hesitate to charge you with criminal negligence is that understood!!!!!!!!!

I’m not one of the locals that are messing with. Stop your childish behaveior and pay for my medication. Your are not even attempting to settle any dispute. I will post my e-mails to you on every site on the net possible until you start paying my debts.

I worked in the intelligence/security branch of the Police in my country. Please do not underestimate my intelligence. I leave you with i final thought…..........

“I wonder if your friends in Sienna Girls High School in the USA no that your are killings innocent contractors by refusing them medication and benefits”

Please have a good nights sleep and pray before you go to sleep.

Daniel Brink

The Party of “So” has informed US we will not only be relegated to the employment standards of Walmart, but their form of a healthcare system too.
The Repugs stance on Helthcare reform be laughable, if lives didn’t hang in the balance.
Their ‘newest’ Old mantra has reared it’s ugly head of disdain, disregard and disconnection once again. “Socialized medicine will result in fewer services and destroy the patient/Doc relationship” Please, apparently they have not used the same healthcare system as the rest of US. Ho woften has the average american heard “I’ll have to check if this is covered by your insurance” or more likely “this is not covered by your insurance, so you’d have to pay out of pocket”. Worse yet, and further proof the Repugs have no concept of the realities of doctor visits is the claim of ‘long lines and delayed care’...Apparently they’ve never waited an hour after their appointment schedule in the waiting room, nor have they had to wait months to get even get the appointment to begin with. And how many of US have heard- ‘I’m sorry you have to wait until a date past your previous years appointment for your coverage to pay’??? then to be put out due to over scheduling far past that one year date. Obviously the male majority in Congress (esp the Repugs) have never had the Frustrations associated with making a OB/GYN appointment- There are so few because of Malpracitice insurance costs, getting an appt is hell, and even worse trying to find one who’s taking new patients. Literally you have to have a family connection to get in- “Are you the Daughter of one of our current patients”.Jesus it’s like applying to an Ivy League school to get a pap.
Although I feel bad for these employees of the War Profiteers, my concern is for our enlisted who not only made far less money than them, but also faced far more dangers on a regular basis. Guess they should have read the fine print just below that exorbinate hourly wage on their contract.

I would like to respond to a couple of points that “purple girl” has hit on. She obviously doesn’t have any friends in some of the wonderful socialist countries with “free” healthcare. Do some research and you will see that the old saying “you get what you pay for” is true. Of course you will be paying through the nose in taxes for the greater good, but golly, no bill from the doctor…whenever you can get in to see one. And if you need a specialist, you will be wishing for that 1 hour wait past appointment time. Also, for the record, I am personally one of those employees that worked for the big bad war profiteers. If you don’t like the contractors, write your congressperson and suggest that the draft come back. I am sure you are about the right age to be drafted. Knock yourself out. Remember, our military is an all volunteer organization. The brave men and women who have joined had fine print on their contracts,too. They also have history books and cable television for reference before they joined. My hat is off to everyone brave enough to sacrifice their time and in some cases their lives for our country. I went to work for my company fully expecting that I may not make it home. I worked for KBR and I can assure you that they make sure that we knew the dangers. Did I mention we volunteered, too? I understand that some don’t like the fact that we were paid more than the regular enlisted, but I can assure you that the danger was the same.

This article is part of an ongoing investigation:
Disposable Army

Disposable Army: Civilian Contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan

War contractors return home with the same scars as soldiers, but without the support.

The Story So Far

Civilian contractors have been an indispensable part of the U.S. war effort in Iraq and Afghanistan, but they have returned home without the support available for troops in uniform.

Tens of thousands of civilians have worked in the two battle zones, delivering fuel, protecting diplomats and translating for troops, among other jobs.

More »

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