Med-tech company repossess veteran's artificial legs because the VA won't cover them

Originally published at:


That’s horrible. Does it make any difference that the guy is a vet?


Only insofar as corporate America claims to love and revere its vets. It just highlights the awfulness.


10 years ago this was the plot of a dystopian sci-fi movie set in 2025 (Repo Men). So shit’s going to hell even faster than we imagined it would.


Can an independent tech be crowdsourced to make the final adjustments, or is this going to be a Monsanto-style situation?


Sounds pretty old school. In the future a set of IOT artificial legs would simply be disabled by flipping a switch at HQ which would then make the legs go limp. Sort of like how some car finance companies can remotely disable a car.


The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs paid for a motorized wheelchair for Holliman a few years ago

To be fair it’s not like the VA is trying to immobilize him.

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He’s black, which you can bet has something to do with it.


“How was work today, honey?”

“Oh, you know, the usual. I had to repossess some prosthetic limbs from a disabled vet who is battling cancer. How was your book club?”


So, what is the market for second-hand legs? It’s got me stumped.

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There is the Open Prosthetics Project.

That’s one OPP that I AM down with.


Well, when bought new they normally cost an arm and a leg…


In the future, HQ would tell the legs to detach from the body and just walk back to HQ.

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This is a structural problem with the medical system. One can’t really expect Hanger to work for free, though it would be an act of goodwill for them to do so in this case, and probably lifetime service should have been included in the original price of the prosthetic. The VA, if they authorized the legs in the first place, should be paying for the adjustments, and the government should be authorizing enough money to the VA system to cover repairing the soldiers that get damaged doing its work.

I can’t click through to the article, does it give an explanation why he didn’t want to authorize Medicare to cover the cost?

Some. While a certain standard of medical care should be a human right (a non-controversial position here, I should think) that’s not the social contract as it exists in America right now. Renegotiating that social contract is a bit of an uphill battle right now.

However, the social contract as it stands does claim, rather stridently, that joining the army is not just a job but a service one renders to the common weal of the country/society and that this is a service that should be repaid with both gratitude and aid, especially if the service ended up causing permanent irreparable harm.

So this is not only a grotesquerie of modern capitalism, but also a blatant failure to uphold that which the mainstream of society promises.


You don’t need to click through to find that out, though:


I stand corrected. I’d still like to see the original article, Cory isn’t always the most reliable narrator.

So let’s tell @doctorow the link doesn’t work.

In the meantime why might use this one. I found it by putting the link text into DuckDuckGo. :wink:

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So from the article Cory’s paraphrasure is not quite correct. He wouldn’t sign mainly because he thought it was the VA’s responsibility, not Medicare.

If I’m reading the article correctly, though, the key thing isn’t that the repossession was because nobody was willing to pay for the adjustment, but rather that nobody was willing to pay for the prosthetics at all. How he got the legs in the first place is a bit of a mystery: was there a preauthorization? Did Hanger trick him into taking them with a promise that there would be a way to pay for them later?

The real story is that the US through the VA isn’t meeting its obligations to its soldiers.

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Strange, I find what @doctorow writes is exactly what I gather from the article.


Maybe the hospital ordered them because they were sure the VA would pay, but then the VA found out they could claim that diabetes is maybe not a direct result from the vet’s service, but comes from his lifestyle, or a predisposition.

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