It’s Called Free Speech (Part II)

[Continued from 6/15/11]

Last night I asked Susan if she had
ever before had any trouble with Medicaid.
She wasn’t sure.  Upon further
questioning, I learned that she’s not sure how long she’s been on Medicaid
“this time”—she thinks it’s about three years.
But here’s the thing:  Susan was
on Medicaid about twenty years ago when her son was born but she got off it and
now is trying to remember if she’d ever had any trouble then.  That’s the kind of woman Susan is:  ask her a question and she tries to take into
account her entire history, however irrelevant to today’s problem.  She is open and honest; I ask a question and
she tries to answer it fully and completely.
For a fact, she says she has never had any trouble with Medicaid in the
past three years.  I believe her.  Mark, who has never spoken to her, says

So, in the first place, Mark
Bertozzi has no proof that Susan has been a problem.  Second, she has not been a problem.  Third, regarding Mark’s statement that Susan
can get her own transportation and Medicaid will pay for it:  Nobody
has ever told this to Susan. 
Really.  Truly and honestly.  Wayne Freeman has refused to put anything in
writing.  Susan has tried desperately to
get a phone call through to anybody
at the Monroe County Dept. of Social Services, but nobody’s answering their
phone.  And DSS’s voice mail is
overloaded and not taking messages.

Late yesterday I finally got to
talk to Pat Schichler, who sounds like a nice lady, works for the Monroe County
DSS, and has a title something like financial assistance coordinator.  According to Pat, a recipient of Medicaid
services is supposed to get written notice ten days before any changes are made
to the level of services.

Wayne Freeman cut off services to
Susan without any advance notice, and he refuses to put anything in
writing.  I have years of experience with Freeman and he’s never put anything in
writing to me, either.  I have a deep
suspicion that the man can’t write.
Maybe his partner, Russell Maxwell, does all the writing for Medical
Answering Services.  How many ambulance
drivers know how to write a letter?
That’s what Freeman’s background preparation was for running a
telephone/computer room to dispatch Medicaid transportation:  he told me he was an ambulance driver for
eighteen years.  I also deeply suspect
that the Freeman/Maxwell duo got their first contract by making payoffs to the
Onondaga County Republican Party but I do not—repeat “do not”—have any proof.  I also do not take drugs, get drunk, or hallucinate.

Anyway, back to Susan’s problem.  Not one single person up the chain of command
has told her that she can get Medicaid transportation and be reimbursed.  Also, not one single person has put it in
writing.  At my second fair hearing about
Medicaid transportation (see “The Fairly Fair Fair Hearing (parts I-III)” [
] the judge asked the county to produce paperwork—“No, No, written.   Do you have proof that you requested this information?”  They didn’t.
I won the fair hearing.

Not only have they not given Susan
written notification of her rights, but this
you-get-transportation-and-we’ll-reimburse-you thing is not a nice option.  The conditions, limitations, restrictions,
and paper work are impossible.  I know
this because when Wayne Freeman tried to deny me transportation then the
Onondaga County Medicaid Director told me:

“Find your own means of transportation.  If the transporter is
not a registered cab company or invalid coach vendor currently under contract with the county, they must be fingerprinted by the Onondaga County Sheriff’s Dept, submitting proof of this to my office, verification of insurance, and release of County liability should an accident occur,  and willing to contract with our office
for your transportation at a rate established by out [sic] office.  Then each time you need to go to a medical service that is included in the Medicaid benefit package, you must submit in writing to your worker a statement of your appointment prior to the transport and a  follow up receipt and statement of your compete [sic] attendance at that appointment.  The transporter may then submit a bill to our office and we will pay them directly within 6 weeks.”

Disabled people, which Susan is, have medical appointments
every week—surgeon, cardiologist, therapist, etc.  Do you know any poor, sick, aging person who
could manage this?  Never mind poor and
all that other stuff—could you do it?
Get advance written permission and follow-up certification?  For what?
Susan didn’t do anything

Pat Schichler has the local authority to straighten this out.  I am praying for her.

Meanwhile, I am going to go mess with Wayne, Tim and Mark
some more.  You don’t deny truth and
justice, not to mention human services, to God’s neediest people and walk away
unscathed.  Not while I’m in the room and
working for God you don’t.

About annecwoodlen

I am a tenth generation American, descended from a family that has been working a farm that was deeded to us by William Penn. The country has changed around us but we have held true. I stand in my grandmother’s kitchen, look down the valley to her brother’s farm and see my great-great-great-great-great-grandmother Hannah standing on the porch. She is holding the baby, surrounded by four other children, and saying goodbye to her husband and oldest son who are going off to fight in the Revolutionary War. The war is twenty miles away and her husband will die fighting. We are not the Daughters of the American Revolution; we were its mothers. My father, Milton C. Woodlen, got his doctorate from Temple University in the 1940’s when—in his words—“a doctorate still meant something.” He became an education professor at West Chester State Teachers College, where my mother, Elizabeth Hope Copeland, had graduated. My mother raised four girls and one boy, of which I am the middle child. My parents are deceased and my siblings are estranged. My fiancé, Robert H. Dobrow, was a fighter pilot in the Marine Corps. In 1974, his plane crashed, his parachute did not open, and we buried him in a cemetery on Long Island. I could say a great deal about him, or nothing; there is no middle ground. I have loved other men; Bob was my soul mate. The single greatest determinate of who I am and what my life has been is that I inherited my father’s gene for bipolar disorder, type II. Associated with all bipolar disorders is executive dysfunction, a learning disability that interferes with the ability to sort and organize. Despite an I.Q. of 139, I failed twelve subjects and got expelled from high school and prep school. I attended Syracuse University and Onondaga Community College and got an associate’s degree after twenty-five years. I am nothing if not tenacious. Gifted with intelligence, constrained by disability, and compromised by depression, my employment was limited to entry level jobs. Being female in the 1960’s meant that I did office work—billing at the university library, calling out telegrams at Western Union, and filing papers at a law firm. During one decade, I worked at about a hundred different places as a temporary secretary. I worked for hospitals, banks, manufacturers and others, including the county government. I quit the District Attorney’s Office to manage a gas station; it was more honest work. After Bob’s death, I started taking antidepressants. Following doctor’s orders, I took them every day for twenty-six years. During that time, I attempted%2
This entry was posted in activism, advocacy, disability, disability rights, God, Government Services, Medicaid, Poverty, Power, Values and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s