Monday, January 23, 2012

Getting Stuck in the Medicaid Matrix

by Margaret Collins
member, CWI USA

Poverty is ugly. Really.  All around us we are bombarded with images of trim, beautiful people with smiling mouths filled with white straight teeth. The reality amongst the working class and poor are mouths with gaps from missing teeth and amputations resulting from rampant diabetes.
The poor rely on fast foods and cheap stomach filling starches. Budget cuts have killed physical education classes in many public schools.  As a result, children are now recommended for cholesterol screening and the "diabesity" epidemic has prompted the World Health Organization to say that 1 in 10 people will suffer from diabetes in the next 20 years.

So what is this government doing about it? Both parties want to viciously slash Medicaid and Medicare. This would be a healthcare holocaust. Do you want an example? Let's take asthma. Asthma is the leading cause of childhood hospitalization and school absences. You would think that treating an illness like asthma would be a top priority for the school system and the government. Nearly a quarter of African Americans and Latino children depend on Medicaid to treat chronic asthma. If Medicaid is slashed the damage to the poor and people of color will be irreparable.

Who depends on Medicaid? All you need to do is wait on a Medicaid line and see who is waiting with you. Elderly, immigrants, working people. And yourself.

In my case my son had a cough for a few weeks so I took him to the doctor's office on Saturday morning. The computer which is used to check in patients first and foremost checks payment status. My son's Medicaid coverage was discontinued and we were awaiting a hearing on the matter. The lone medical assistant barred us from seeing the doctor and since no supervisor was in the building I couldn't convince her to bill us later. When I asked what to do if the situation got worse she said  "I don't know go to the emergency room I guess".

When I went back to the Medicaid office on the Monday, and complained that my son was supposed to get aid continuing until a hearing took place, the Medicaid worker, clearly bored with my story said without looking up, "Write your politician if you don't like it" I said "That doesn't seem to work too well, that is why people are camping out in the streets"

Then nearly a month ago after I applied for Child Health Plus, I received a letter saying that my documents were missing. Where were the documents verifying my status as a veteran? And the documents about child support and why was my name missing on the application. None of these things were true. Somebody in the head office must have switched my application with an amnesiac veteran seeking child support.

Now I had to have an additional meeting with a facilitated enroller who promised she will correct mistakes and expedite the process. I meet her and redo the application. A few days later I get a call again. Some other box was not checked by the worker . This extends the 60 day waiting period further. Flu season is in full swing and I have my fingers crossed. I hope my son doesn't get sick before the coverage kicks in. Unless another box needs to be checked off. Then the process could begin all over again. A sick society denies health care to its people. So much for Obama care. I'm stuck in the Medicaid Matrix.

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