You are cordially invited . . .

To the fair hearing of Anne C Woodlen versus Iroquois Nursing Home on Tuesday, July 30, at 11:30 a.m. in the boardroom of Crouse Hospital.

While we wait, how about a replay of my last fair hearing?

The Fairly Fair Fair Hearing (part I)

Posted on October 22, 2010

There are 70,000 Medicaid patients in Onondaga County.  Medicaid transportation bills the state $8 million a year.  Medicaid dispatch takes 350 ride orders a day.  And the Dept. of Social Services (DSS) administration is spending mega-hours and mega-dollars to prevent Medicaid from spending $27.50 to take one person—me—to the doctor.

I had to take a TLC wheelchair van to get to the Civic Center for the fair hearing between me and the Onondaga County Dept. of Social Services regarding Medicaid transportation.  If I had taken Call-a-Bus, I would have had to sit in the waiting room for two hours, and I just couldn’t—too sick.  So I took TLC and only had to wait half an hour.  I read my Bible and ate lunch, then my case was called first.

We started at 1:15 p.m. with a female judge with a name so unusual that I can’t begin to tell it.  Also in attendance were the chief Welfare attorney Zachary Karmen and Sandy Kane, his paralegal assistant.  Zachary Karmen has only been reported to have personally handled Medicaid hearings about twice in the past twenty years, but he’s doing my hearing.  I have gotten the Onondaga County DSS investigated by the NYS Office of the Medicaid Inspector General.  This is the second time Karmen and I have gone around on the Medicaid transportation issue.  The first time, I lost.

This time the judge dialed the speaker phone to get us into the OTDA[1] recording system, and we began.  First, the judge looked in her file and noted that the Inspector General’s Office wants to be kept apprised of the situation.  Second, we talked about the letter from my doctor regarding me missing the last hearing because I was sick.  Then we talked about reimbursement for my transportation.  Then we talked about how come I don’t have a lawyer.

Karmen made some snotty remarks, insinuating that I don’t have a lawyer because I have a lousy personality and nobody will work with me.  The judge kept saying she wasn’t going to adjourn this again just because I didn’t have lawyer and saw no way of getting one.[2]  I kept saying, “Attorney Karmen’s sitting there with a law book opened in front of him with passages highlighted—I can’t begin to deal with that.  This isn’t fair.”

Finally, I said to the judge, “Can I just tell you what happened?”  She said yes—first the county would present, then blah-blah-blah, and I said, “But I’m the one who brought the complaint—why can’t I go first?”  So she asked Karmen if I could go first and he said yes, so I did.

I had no notes or documents.  I was too sick to gather things up at home—I even forgot my appointment book and pen.  I started out with, “There was a fair hearing last year, which I lost, so I took Call-a-Bus from August until February, when I got much sicker.”  I told my little story.  It took maybe five minutes.  I said my doctor called Wayne Freeman, co-owner of Medical Answering Service, LLC, which has the Medicaid transportation dispatch contract for Onondaga County.  Then my doctor sent Freeman a new application and a letter.  I got transportation for two weeks, then Freeman discontinued it.  I got really sick because I couldn’t get to the doctor for treatment, consequently I lost my job and needed to be hospitalized.  Then the case management agency paid for my medical transportation for a month.  End of story.

So Karmen asks me a couple questions, one of which was how many times I’ve taken Call-a-Bus since forever.  He tells me it was 264 times, then turns it over to Sandy Kane, who probably had to count all those rides.  She drags out the judgment from the last fair hearing and reads from it copiously, then starts marching through ancient history.  The judge puts up with it for a while, then says something like ‘that was then but this is now.’

This becomes a theme that is brought up repeatedly.  Essentially, the county’s argument is that because I once was judged able to take the bus, therefore I am forever and henceforth able to take the bus.  Karmen and Kane kept dragging in everything that preceded the decision of August 2006, and the judge kept telling them to forget it—that was over and done with.  Move on.  Karmen and Kane couldn’t because they had nothing to move on to.  After while I even got up the nerve to interrupt a few times with, “Excuse me, but that’s all the old stuff again.” (To be continued)

[1] Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance

[2] The S.U. Law School Clinic does not know Medicaid law, and the Bar Association has no one who will take a pro bono Medicaid case.  The Legal Aid attorney quit when I refused to accept the stipulations she had added at Karmen’s request (Legal Aid is under contract to DSS; Karmen is the liaison officer on the contract).

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
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2 Responses to You are cordially invited . . .

  1. Madam Nomad says:


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