If it is it doesn't matter

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Paging Dr. Kafka

(Part 2 of my Adventures in Medicaid)

Actually the reapplication process went smoothly at first. The interviewer would only talk to one person, so Em went in. (I wonder if the reason for that os self-protection. If he turns you down, better he should have only one person mad at him.)

I begged Em to ask "What is an S87, but she apologized. She described the guy as a complete robot, only interested in the next blank on the form. Even though Em tends to be relectant to assert herself -- except when she's talking to me -- I accepted this. We had a couple of documents to bring in. We did, and this time I asked one of the visible workers, "What's an S87?"

"I don't know."

Anyway, we relaxed, caught our breath, dealt with only the ordinary chaos we and five cats can cause, and waited. The person who talked with Em when she brought in the other documents said she'd try to expedite things so we'd hear in two to four weeks, instead of the usual four to eight. But our paperwork was in order, everything up to snuff, we figured things would go smoothly.

Then WHAM!

Earlier this week we get a letter explaining that our reapplication was being denied because an RFI had shown that my wife had three bank accounts at the Dime Savings Bank, one that we recognized, another for a few hundred dollars, and a third for an amount well into five figures. Which would have been very nice, except for one problem. We knew nothing at all about the other accounts. (I wondered, and a friend suggested, that perhaps Em's parents had opened an account for her many years ago and never told her. Either that, I assumed, or it was a simple clerical error. There was one obvious error already, since while Em had had an account in the Dime for years, the bank no longer existed as such, and hadn't for at least seven years. It had been bought and was now a Washington Mutual bank.)

So Em and I went to the bank and discovered it was a third possibility. The friend who had called us had listed Em's name as the beneficiary on the account. She had been friends with Em since before I came along and had no family to leave her money to. Of course she is in reasonable health and, as long as she is alive, we have noi ability -- or desire -- to touch the money. (Of course, we now did know her account numbers, thanks to Medicaid.)

What do we do? Contact Medicaid and get it straightened out. So we call the number to 'arrange a conference.'

The result. Sound of phone being answered, sound resembling a computer or fax hook up. "To access your voice mail, press the * key. Thank your for calling Gng." Followed by a selection of fragments of e-mail messages (no, we DIDN'T press the * key) followed by "If you want to leave a message, wait for the beep."

Somehow, this was not helpful.

So we call 311. "I'll connect you to the Medicaid Complaint Department." Which would have been useful, except after 40 rings, no one picks up.

So I try another, general number for Medicaid. This results in a message from the City Commissioner of Human Rights followed by silence, no ringing, none of those delightful nests of instructions that can take five minutes to reach a human voice. Not even a pleasant bit of classical music to calm me down.

Back to 311. This time I get the Complaint Department #. Try it again. No answer. Repeat. Same result. Back to the original number. Same result, only with a different selection of voice mail fragments. Back to the general number. The Commissioner has a lovely voice, but this isn't helping.

Back to 311. Repeat the problem. "Okay, I'll connect you to the general Medicaid number." I ask if it is the number I already have. Yes. I start to explain. The phone and one of my cats are on the bed. The cat, having heard enough, steps on the disconnect button.

By this time it is too late to go to the office listed on the sheet, which is actually for the State, though it is also the mailing address for the city if you want to arrange a conference by mail -- no, I don't understand it.

We decide to leave the next day, after Em's dental appointment -- she is getting a full set of dentures and, because of the complications of insurance, it has been almost a year since she started the process.

The main reason for the delay was going to a private dentist who took Medicaid. When he found that he couldn't talk her out of having dentures and convince her to have a series of root canals and repairs on the teeth that would have cost almost as much as our mythical account, and that Medicaid wouldn't pay for, he instructed his receptionist not to give us an appointment. And when she finally went to a hospital clinic -- at the same hospital that dropped a bench on my leg which was why she was reluctant to try it -- great doctors, lousy support personnell at that hospital -- she found out the insurance WOULD pay for the extractions, but not for general anaesthesia and surgery. Which meant she had to have four teeth at a time removed each week -- they couldn't give her enough novocaine for more removals safely. Fortunately, the clinic knew we had been kicked off but decided to complete the work anyway, since all her teeth had been already removed and she'd been walking around toothless for a couple of months as they waited for her mouth to heal and final adjustments to the teeth to be made. (I should mention that Em is 18 years younger than I am, even though the only way you'd guess this in her toothless condition is that I look fifteen years older than my age, so it averages out.)

Anyway, we decide to try the Coney island office again before heading into Manhattan. We'd been having a warm snap. Guess which day it broke and went back to seasonal.

We get down there, Em shows the letter we'd gotten from the bank. It's fine except for one thing. The person who made it out forgot to date it. Fortunately there's a branch of Washington Mutual nearby. We get it stamped, turn it in, and there things rest.

I want to say that it is all smooth sailing from this point on. But I'm not THAT crazy.

Oh, and one final point. It's now obvious that S87 DID mean 'too many assets. Which means we were kicked off unjustly. While we've been off, Em had to buy asthma medication, I needed pain pills for my arthritis, and since Vicodin is unrenewable, we had to go to the doctor. All of which we had to pay for out of our own (tiny) pockets. I suppose we COULD put in a claim for these expenses.

I don't think we will. Vicodin works on headaches too, but there are limits to the number the doctor will prescribe for us.

So we


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