Thursday, August 21, 2014


Time for a few comments on how the bureaucrats and their special language are driving us all crazy. I hate acronyms. Everyone pretends they know what they stand for but most of the time we just move on from them without a clue, because we don’t want to have to ask the “stupid” question. Fortunately, I have always been very good at asking “stupid” questions, and I have a history of driving bureaucrats crazy by insisting they tell me what each of these things actually stands for. Here’s a little secret. They often don’t know either. By the way, did you ever wonder if acronym is actually an acronym for something, and if so what. Next time you’re in a big meeting with someone spinning off all these gobbledygook words, ask them what acronym stands for.

The bottom line is that I am tired of the government screwing up my life. It’s not enough that they write 100,000 page tax codes or 2000 page health plans, but then they load these things up with non-word words that mean nothing to the average reader. Then when you ask them what the hell a HIPPA is they get to look down on you with that special bureaucratic “smirk” that says you’re an idiot.

I wrote the following piece (Granite Grumblings, 2011) when I was in a VNA meeting. Oh, you don’t know that the VNA is the Visiting Nurse Association? What are you, some kind of idiot? Anyway I wrote this piece in one of those meetings, because the government seemed to be swamping us by the minute with new acronyms.

I hope it brings a little comic relief from a world that seems increasingly to have no sense of humor. I can only hope that no bureaucrat is reading this or I will probably be audited, again.

Glenn K. Currie


Comments From The HHA (Home Health Agency) Frontlines


I sat in what I hoped looked like a state of contemplative evaluation. Actually, however, it was dazed incomprehension.

They were talking about Groupers, HIPPS, No-RAP LUPA’s and OASIS.

I hate acronyms. They are never what they seem, and they make my head ache. In fact, lately, the whole health care system is starting to make me crazy.

A few years ago, I agreed to serve on the Board of Trustees of the Concord Regional Visiting Nurse Association (aka the CRVNA or VNA).

I figured this might be fun. You know, get to meet a lot of nice nurses, eat some cookies at the meetings, maybe learn something about the caregivers who are going to be dealing with me in a few years. (Maybe sooner if there are many more meetings like this one).

The CFO is now discussing HHRG’s. “An HHRG of C2FZS1 would have a care mix weight of 1.0758 and a labor quotient of 1.3303, if the patient lives in Barnstable…”

The room begins to swim. A bunch of old Navy acronyms suddenly appear on the inside of my eyeballs. (MEGO/SOS/ASAP). I have a page and a half of these VNA acronyms and their meanings in front of me, but they aren’t helping.

I look up Grouper, which I always thought was a large bottom-feeding fish. But no, according to my sheet, its “a software module…and for HH PPS data from the OASIS assessment tool is grouped to form HHRG’s and output HIPPS codes”.

It goes downhill from there. Trust me when I tell you that HIPPS and OASIS are not body parts or a green spot in the desert. And the No-RAP LUPAs are not a Latin American singing group.

The amazing thing to me is that the nurses and administrators actually understand all this stuff. (They don’t necessarily like it but they understand it).

The health care system is getting so complicated now, that only geniuses should apply to become nurses. Which is probably why we have a current shortage of nurses.

Who would have thought thirty years ago that nurses would all be using laptops on their visits, and focusing on POC’s, PEP’s and PPS to keep HCFA happy.

The good news is that they haven’t forgotten about the basic mission of providing quality care to those in need. And despite all the bureaucracy, the level of services that these wonderful people provide is better than ever.

That doesn’t, however, prevent me from increasingly feeling like an anachronism in this era of acronyms and anomalies.

I think they just keep me around because I’m so good looking, and I make everyone else feel smart.

(By the way, I am actually writing this in the meeting. Hopefully, all the other Trustees and staff think I am paying attention to my DMERC’s and SCICs and am just taking copious notes.)

Glenn K. Currie

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