Friday, July 07, 2006

Medi-Cal And Me

I've written before about the fact that we receive respite services for our son. This allows my husband and I to have a couple of dates a month. I can't even begin to explain what a treat it is to get out, just the two of us.

The local regional center "ABC" pays for the respite services. They contract with company "XYZ" which provides the service to us, free of charge.

"ABC" strongly encouraged me to sign up for a medical benefits card for my son. Then the state will pay for the respite, thus freeing up "ABC's" budget to provide more services.

Medi-cal is the no cost medical coverage that our state offers. I am not unfamiliar with medi-cal. For a very short time in 2002, I had medi-cal coverage for my oldest child. Also, even though I was working full time, I qualified for about 35.00 a month in food stamps. Big money - Whoo-ha!

I don't know how people make ends meet on public assistance. I know that it is only meant as a temporary helping hand, but really it's like a helping finger. (a middle one too!)

"ABC" made a referral to the Department of Health and Human Services. They mailed me some paperwork. It showed up Friday afternoon, as I was getting ready to leave town.

I filed it and promptly forgot about it. I missed the deadline to fill out the paperwork and mail it in, which was about a five day deadline anyway.

Diane at ABC had already warned me that the deadlines were notoriously short so I felt guilty.

I told her I would go down to the Department and take care of it myself.

First I filled out the paperwork at home. The paperwork is a little confusing, all the better to confound people applying for public assistance, I assume.

The government wants to know the names and ages of everyone in the family. Do you have life insurance? Do you have medical insurance? Do you have cars, motorcycles, Rv's? When was the last time you scratched your butt and why?

Since my son is getting a medi-cal card for his autism, our income is not taken into consideration. So I didn't have to fill out income or assets.

Besides there was no space to tell them my Chrysler Town & Country Mini-Van may look like an asset, but breaks down every other month and therefore should be listed in the dependent's column. (Forgot a whole bunch of commas, didn't I?)

I wanted to arrive at the Department of Health and Human Services this morning at eight. I made it by nine-fifteen. There were about three people in front of me.

I asked the receptionist what to fill out. She had just finished giving instructions to the man in front of me. The recepitonist told me, "Once again, go around the corner and grab the blue form."

"Once again"...WTF! It was the first time I had asked. I must have missed the huge sign hanging behind her that said, "Please Eavesdrop So You Will Know What the Fu@# Is Going On."

I sat on one of the older than dirt (and dirtier than dirt) chairs and filled out the BLUE FORM. I took it back to the bitch receptionist and she gave me a number.

The numbers weren't in chronological order so I had no idea when I would be called. The only magazines to read were the free ones with about five short articles each. They weren't even piled nicely. It looked like somebody had grabbed all the magazines, threw them up in the air and let them land on the table.

Would it have been that much trouble to stack them? In fact would it have been that much trouble to spray some Febreze on the chairs and rugs, maybe paint the walls and spritz it up a bit. I'm not asking for Martha Stewart here. It's just that I fully expected the booths with the workers in them to have a telephone on each side with bulletproof glass in between.

In fact, I wasn't sure if I had landed at the Department of Health and Human Services or the Department of Health and Sub-Human Services. The whole thing seemed carefully arranged to remind me of what a scum bag I surely was.

I read through all the magazines. I sighed. I tapped my fingers.

I got up to get the hell out of there. Screw that. I'd apply by mail again.

Sadly, not everybody else has that option.

As I was walking out, they called my number. Hallelujah!

Since I had the paperwork filled out, it was a five minute process. I will be getting more stuff in the mail containing more hoops to jump through, at their convenience of course.

Government programs, you've gotta love 'em.


Blogger MsCellania said...

I understand 1000%.

We have opted out of some services for Ryan due in part to - get this - the local agency having to notify every single client that one of their employees was carrying files loaded with personal information in their car, and whoops! their car was broken into and all the files stolen. With names, dates of birth, social insecurity numbers, etc.; every single bitg of info a person would need to steal identities.

We did benefit from the services for 2 years. For that, we are eternally grateful. And for that, we had to fill out reams of paperwork, which they frequently lost so we had to re-submit, then file more paperwork, which now who knows where all that sensitive information is?

The school district here is better, Caryoln. Fewer clients, fewer levels of red tape. But you still have to be the squeaky, squealing, screaming wheel to get what is mandated. I see people actually scurry away when I walk into the admin building. But I am fast! I catch them!

1:44 PM  
Blogger Carolyn said...

I have this visual picture of you chasing down the people in the admin building. Very funny! :D

I worry a LOT about my kid's social security numbers being stolen and their identity.

I won't list the SSN's on the forms for the public schools. They don't need it!

1:48 PM  
Blogger Ms.L said...

Uck,that sounds awful.
I'm glad you got that part done though and hope the next stage is pleasanter.
We've had similar experiences in the past and I always left feeling like I'd left too much of myself behind at that place with those people.

1:50 PM  
Blogger Liz said...

What a mess. Good luck.

I think they make things so difficult intentionally to discourage pepole from seeking help. The people that abuse/cheat are the reason it is the way it is. Those that truly need the help, end up getting screwed in the process.

2:36 PM  
Blogger Gingers Mom said...

Sounds like dealing with the DMV...or worse...the Navy. Just keep reminding yourself "it's worth it" over and over. Right??

2:47 PM  
Blogger Sarah Louise said...

Good for you for sticking it out!

I've been reading Because of Wynn Dixie and just got to the part with the candy that makes you sad. We each have our sorrows with a little sugar.

And I do like the image of Vickee running and catching the people scurrying out of the admin bldg--sort of like Little Bunny FuFu with the field mice (minus the head-bopping, I imagine, but you never know...)

6:50 PM  
Blogger Lori said...

They could make the little room you have to wait in a little more pleasant but no its like they want us to be in hell for asking for help when we need it the most.

5:59 AM  
Blogger beadinggalinMS said...

You sure you was not in my area?? Sounds just like my office.

6:03 AM  
Blogger Paula said...

I hate bureaucracy. I hope it all goes smoothly for you. If not we'll all have to think of a really creative way for you to bug the shit out of them;).

7:13 AM  
Blogger weirdbunny said...

State Benefit Offices are really discusting over here too, all grimy and smelly, it must be an international code of practise.

However, state benefits are exeptionally good over here. Well apart form when my father applied for a different benefit for exeptionally ill people, but they said his kind of lukemia wasn't ill enough. He died 3 weeks later, surely that was ill enough!!!

2:04 PM  
Blogger Carolyn said...


I'm sorry about your Dad. I'll bet you would like to pound the idiot who decreed he wasn't sick enough!

2:20 PM  
Blogger Crazedmomof4 said...

This one hits a bad spot with me. We have had to use food stamps & insurance. When we had our business & makeing half the money, they were hard to deal with. They never believed what we made. They thought we were trying to cheat them. We actually claimed more then we made. I hate government offices.

8:16 AM  
Anonymous Marjorie Smith said...

Been there done that. My son has been in and out of the systems here in ohio too. He was diagnosed with a seizure disorder and a developmental delay...both that have been misdiagnosed according to the second opinion. Therefore, all of the paper work and hassel I went through to qualify him is voided. Now the toddler class he is going to thinks he may have a mild autistic diagnosis!! Just as I went through all of this just to have voided, I have to do it again. Talk about frustrating. So, I hear ya on the frustration part and I hope all goes well for you. I take care of autistic children for a living and know how challanging it can be. In fact I agreed to keep one boy over the can read my blog about that one. ( I am also working with a group of people to establish an autistic school here in my county...opening in January if all goes well. Anyhow, hang in there. I know from experience that you are your child's only advocate and you need to do whatever is necessary to ensure he gets what he needs and deserves. He is definately worth every ounce of all all children. Good Luck!!

6:25 PM  

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