Senator Aguon Writes to Director of VAPIHCS Regarding Delayed Arrival of Eyeglasses for Veterans

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Some eyeglasses that were ordered as far back as June and September have not arrived, forcing some veterans to pay the full price to obtain their glasses sooner. 

Guam – The following is a letter from Senator Frank Augon, Jr. this morning to Mr. Wayne L. Pfeffer, Director of VA Pacific Island Health Care System (VAPIHCS) in Honolulu, regarding optical care provided by Garcia Optical on Guam. 

 

Dear Mr. Pfeffer,

Buenas yan Hafa Adai! (Greetings) I am writing to you in hopes to address the present demands regarding optical care–specifically, eyeglasses provided by Garcia Optical. Guam Veterans who are enrolled with VA Pacific Island Health Care System (VAPIHCS) are eligible for eyeglasses with the only Guam Community-Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC) vendor–Garcia Optical. 

In understand that there is a criteria set for eyeglasses/frames with the Guam CBOC Optical Vendor which states the following: 

  • If you have a prescription from Naval Hospital, the VA Clinic will need to obtain a copy to prepare a eyeglasses consult, after you have been authorized for eyeglass frames from Honolulu then, take your prescription with you to Garcia Optical; 
  • Honolulu VA will pay up to $170.00 for frames and lens. If choice of eye-glass wear should exceed this amount, veteran shall pay the difference;
  • eyeglasses are to be on hold until vendor receives both the authorization and payment from Honolulu VA; and
  • the veteran will be able to pick up eyeglasses at Garcia Optical locations approximately two (2) weeks after the vendor received payment from the VA Prosthetics Department in Honolulu.

I understand that the VA offers a full life cycle for processing commercial vendor payments that are in full compliance with the Prompt Payment Act using a First-In-First-Out (FIFO) methodology. Understandably so, I am concerned with the extended waiting period our veterans must endure due to pending vendor payments to Garcia Optical. Moreover, I am concerned with a couple of veterans who have not received their eyeglasses from Garcia Optical as far back as June and September of this year. In addition to this year, there are a total of eleven (11) veterans who have been waiting for their eyeglasses since October of this year. 

Garcia Optical understands the basic necessity of eyewear for our veterans; yet the Guam CBOC Optical Vendor criteria restrict them from releasing the eyeglasses to the veteran. In fact, only under emergency circumstances has Garcia Optical released two (2) sets of eyeglasses to the veterans who needed their eyeglasses to travel off-island; and to date, the vendor has yet to be reimbursed by the VA. Another veteran paid the full price of $170.00 to obtain his sunglasses with the agreement to reimbursed once payment has been made to the VA to Garcia Optical. 

Why is Guam veterans subjected to this kind of delayed care? Why are the vendors subjected to delays with vendor payment? How many other VA providers on island are faced with vendor non-payment? While payments to vendors are outside of the operations at Guam CBOC, they are most certainly under the purview of VAPIHCS. I am requesting your immediate assistance with providing guidance and a timeframe for vendor payments to Garcia Optical. Your most expeditious attention and response to this request would be greatly appreciated. I look forward to hearing from you soon. Un Dangkolo’ Na Si Yu’os Ma’ase (Thank-you Very Much)

 

Sincerely,

Senator Frank B. Aguon, Jr.