Mark Bertozzi just called me. Who is Mark Bertozzi? In that thing about the government “of, by and for the people” he’s the “by” part. Mark talked to me for four minutes. Then, when I asked if he would listen to me, he said I only could have thirty seconds. This is your government at work: they talk; they don’t listen. Mark is middle management in the NYS Dept. of Health, which is to say he’s Tim Perry-Coon’s boss, and Tim is the Medicaid transportation specialist for Central New York. Tim doesn’t listen either.
What Mark told me, first, was that he had talked to Tim and Medical Answering Services, i.e., Wayne Freeman. He may or may not have added that he talked to the transportation vendor. In other words, Mark’s only information comes
from quasi-government sources, not from the citizen/client or her advocate. He only talked to the people who are below him in the paycheck chain and are motivated to see things his way. Mark did not solicit input from anybody
representing the other side of the story. This is your government and how it doesn’t work for you; it works for itself. Mark did not talk to the citizen
he is supposed to serve.
He then told me that it was really pushing the boundaries for him to talk to me; that HIPAA regulations come into play somewhere. That is true, however, they have not come into play here! It is standard procedure for government bureaucrats to hide behind HIPAA. As long as they can maintain the cloak of
secrecy then they can continue to act with impunity. Furthermore, Susan has asked me to stand as her advocate. All Mark has to do is ask for that in writing—but if he gets it in writing then he will have to answer my questions, and my questions upset his business life. I require justice for poor people; God alone knows what Mark wants. Being a government bureaucrat, I would guess that what he wants is for people to do what he tells them to do and do it without question.
Having covered all his denials and conditions, Mark goes on to tell me that Susan has been a constant problem and frequently caused trouble with her Medicaid
transportation vendor, and that she can get her own transportation and Medicaid
will pay for it. I start to respond but Mark interrupts me to tell me that I’m not to call his office again. I ask if I may speak. Mark says I can have thirty seconds. He already has told me that he has spent a long time talking to Tim and MAS; he is giving me, the advocate, thirty seconds and Susan, the client, no time at all.
I say, “No, I’ll follow up with your supervisor,” and hang up.
Had “my” government official given me the opportunity to respond then, first, I would have said, “What’s your proof?” There is nothing in writing. There is only (a) a driver, talking to (b) his dispatcher, who contacted (c) Wayne Freeman, who
emailed (d) Tim Perry-Coon, who talked to (e) his boss, Mark Bertozzi. This is whisper down the line. From the driver to Mark there is not a single word in writing that documents any of this. And please note that the funding chain starts with Mark signing off on Medicaid transportation and ends with the driver getting paid. They all have paychecks committed to their version of events.
Second, it is standard government practice to paint the end-point Medicaid user as a really bad person. I have spent hours on the phone with Susan, and she is a nice person. She is honest and funny and frustrated. She is smart and has an exceptional amount of integrity. And you know what she did to precipitate this
situation? She was struggling to get into the van with her disability and her bags and packages, and when the driver didn’t assist her, she said, “I wish you had offered to help.” Then the driver went off on her.
One standard-issue American citizen, upon reading “Wayne Freeman’s At It Again”
(2011/06/09), said, “After reading this article, it made me sick. A disabled person needs to be treated with respect and dignity. If MAS can’t provide that then New York State had better find a new provider. If the driver’s aren’t satisfied with their jobs then they shouldn’t be transporting people.”
That’s it, ladies and gentlemen: this poor, sick, 61-year-old woman voiced aloud the fact that she needed help. What Susan was supposed to do—what this
government-funded system demands of her—is that she accept her difficulties without speaking. Susan spoke up. That was her crime. That is my crime. That is what all of us activists do: we talk. IT’S CALLED FREE SPEECH. Because
Susan asked for help with her bags, she is now being raped by the system. Mark Bertozzi has declared that she has a lng history of being a problem. Mark
thinks that he’s the only person who should have the freedom to speak, not the
citizens he’s supposed to be serving. (To be continued)