Good morning, peeps.
Here’s the news for today: I just saved you $155 with Medicare/Medicaid, and my open letter to Centro bus company did some good. But first, the weather: it’s gorgeous.
The Broken Prong Story
I have a power wheelchair and the power wheelchair has a recharging unit—a box about 3” by 5” by 8” that sits on the floor and is connected to the chair by a six-foot power cord and to the wall socket by another six-foot power cord. The plug to the wall socket has three prongs and the prong that grounds the plug broke off in the socket so I called the building superintendent and he removed the faceplate and the broken prong. Then I emailed my doctor and asked for a prescription to have the plug replaced on the wheelchair.
You didn’t know, did you, that Medicaid/Medicare wheelchair repair requires a doctor’s order? Silly you. Here you thought your doctor went to medical school to repair bodies, not wheelchairs, but stick with me and I’ll learn you better. So yesterday morning the wheelchair repairman, whose training appears to have been on the job, arrived. I explained the problem and he swapped out the recharging unit for a new one. The new one has a stupid design flaw.
The old one has two lights on top. When you plug it in, one light glows red and the other light glows green. When the wheelchair is fully charged, the red light turns green. Simple and sensible, huh? The new one had its lights on the side not the top, that is, the lights were one inch off the floor, facing sideways. Please imagine that you are so crapped out that you can’t even walk. Do you really think you can scrunch down and peer at something on the floor? What idiot redesigned this?
So the tech guy and I talk about it, and then I ask him how much the new unit cost. He says, “$180.” I say, “Huh!” and tell him that my dad would have gone to the store, bought a new plug, cut off the old plug, stripped back the rubber cord cover, and attached the wires to the new plug. My dad was a psychology professor who taught himself how to fix things around the house. The job would have cost about two-fifty, not $180.
So the wheelchair repairman, who comes from the medical equipment supply company, says, “Oh, do you want me to just replace the cord instead of the whole unit?” Duh-h-h, yes, I say. Then I ask how much the cord costs.
“Twenty-five dollars,” he says. So then we fill out a whole sheaf of paper, including a HIPAA form. Why the heck has wheelchair repair been taken under the cloak of patient confidentiality? Listen, if my wheelchair has privacy issues, it bloody well should take care of them itself without dragging me into signing papers.
This whole broken-prong-repair business has taken 15 minutes. The last paper I’m given says that the repairman’s time is billed at $25 in 15-minute increments. The medical supply company is billing Medicare/Medicaid a hundred dollars an hour for this guy, who never went to medical school. That’s where your tax money is going, folks.
The Broken Air-Conditioning Problem
On Monday I posted an open letter to Frank Kobliski, executive director of Centro bus company (http://annecwoodlen.wordpress.com/2012/05/14/an-open-letter-to-frank-kobliski-executive-director-of-centro-bus-company/ ) and sent it to the U.S. Dept. of Justice, the Federal Transit Administration, Frank, his senior vice president, the marketing director, the customer service lady, and the Call-a-Bus manager, assistant manager and two supervisors.
Centro was not effectively training their drivers how to turn on the air conditioning in Call-a-Bus’s short buses, consequently disabled adults were repeatedly being locked in a closed vehicle with the temperature over 90 degrees. It’s a crime if you do that to a dog or a baby, and I told Frank that if it happened to me again then I was going to call the police and have the driver arrested, and call the news media and have the arrest taped for the evening news. I don’t know which action bothered him more. (And, by the way, I posted the open letter because Frank stopped speaking to me years ago. I made too much sense.)
So I posted the letter on my blog on Monday and on Tuesday Centro posted notices in all the short buses. On the dashboard, there now are two strips of tape. Basically, one says Here are the controls for the air conditioning. The other says Read the directions behind the visor. And behind the visor now there is a laminated card that gives the driver step-by-step directions on how to turn on the air conditioning.
I have been filing complaints about this damaging heat situation for years. Centro did nothing. Frank Kobliski, why does it take a public threat of arrest to get you to take action? Under my pressure and consistent with FTA/ADA regulations, you created an advisory council for disabled riders. The only Call-a-Bus (CAB) rider you put on the council was me, and I quit when you wouldn’t listen to me. You filled the council with bureaucrats who work, have earned income, and own their own vehicles.
Put three Call-a-Bus riders on the advisory council, or else I’ll keep posting your problems on-line where everybody reads about them. And I don’t mean three mealy-mouthed old ladies who thank God for Call-a-Bus. CAB paratransit is an act of Congress, not God, and this is a democracy where the people are to be served, not an autocracy where you get to do whatever you want.
Have a good day; the weather’s still gorgeous—and hot. And I’ve got CAB rides scheduled.