Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Worst Day Ever

Take a look this ridiculous system we have created of "care" we have: no one accepts responsibility for their mistakes and no one is held accountable for their actions (Or lack thereof). For those of you who do not understand how I can be so busy without a full time job, let me offer you a glimpse inside a day in the life of a TennCare recipient. I spend day after day after may doing the same thing without any result: I offer you an only a glimpse because you wouldn't be able to sit in my car, and I believe my apartment may truly be a fire hazard... This was my daily update posted at 7:30am:

I have done everything humanly possible to clean up the slack; however, I feel I have no other choice than to file a formal complaint so that my entire case is reviewed. The number of mistakes is so overwhelming that I simply don't have enough time to documents each and every one with the respective agency.

I will try to be more specific later without going into too much detail, but unfortunately, that level of detail is required to file the necessary appeals. Ironic huh? This apartment is like my own little cage, and I am just pathetic enough to run around in circles, hoping to find the much like a hamster wheel, rodent chasing in circles hoping to found my way out my way out before I run out air. If only I had finished my damn PhD, I would do my own case study or reality show on how far we'll go to have nothing at all...

I have taken care of the subrogation claim, however, that does bot minimize my level of frustration because I am DROWNING in paperwork. I have contacted several agencies to assistance such as the Disability Law and Advocacy Center; however, I do not have the resources necessary to provide them with timely response. There is a very limited time allowed to Request Reconsideration, or file an appeal.

I also want to be clear that every time I have to call Social Security or DHS, it only compounds my cost of living expenses (40 cents per minute on the telephone -- a bill which is not even considered to be a justifiable expense) Most agencies do not include self-addressed stamped envelopes, and I cannot afford the postage required to mail out all of the requested documentation (e.g., utility bills, medical bills, pay stubs, etc.)

Fortunately, a number of agencies will take online complaints. Unfortunately, my Internet was interrupted for non-payment for several weeks and there is no funding resource or community agency that provides subsidized Internet access or free printer ink.

Transportation costs are ridiculous so going to the library is not an option. Neither is returning to work right now, since it would cost too much to get to the interview or provide official (expensive) copies of my graduate school transcripts that were oh, such a good investment!

Set aside, I am not the most user friendly person right about now, so I have found it difficult to put on a happy face so I can work at McDonald's which pays more than Metro anyway.

The subrogation claim has been resolved but I just learned that my breast biopsy was not pre-authorized and I was told by my INSURANCE CSR (the person who answers the phone!!!) that I should not have the surgery that has already been scheduled at the Women's Hospital for 8/21/2008. AmeriChoice (United HealthCare) did they did not authorize the biopsy last month, and have not, as of yet, received a request prior authorization for the surgery next week...

This was a lovely 54 minute conversation because he would not mail me copies of my EOBs or confirm that what, if any, requests have been submitted for payment since my last inquiry and change of address. He finally told me to call the state (Tennessee) which I have already done several times, and they told me to call Social Security but it was already past business hours and I am not authorized to make changes to my file anyway.

I'll be in touch when I can. Unfortunately each agency has different deadlines, and it takes a lot of energy and time to scan in, copy, or respond to each inquiry in writing, so I find myself running out of time since I can't seem to get anything done unless I just do nothing at all.

And even though my life is a living hell, I have almost learned how to enjoy the sheer irony of it all... for someone with OCD and post-traumatic stress, this is truly a ridiculous little experiment.

I am becoming increasingly inspired to just burn every last document I own, throw away my keys and my cell phone and take Spotty some place where we can live off the land and ignore the fact that society has me chained to a computer screen that screen that does provide the basic necessities I need to live in this .

I have come this far, and I am becoming rather skilled and at expressing myself without needing an audience or the obsessive need to check every fact, throw, and typo for capitalization and perfection.

So for now... I write. Maybe later, I'll read, but if there is any justice left in this world, someday, I'll actually live.

Good-bye for now. I need a break.

With love,


Sunday, September 7, 2008

Charity Begins at Home: A Call to Action

Charity Begins at Home: A Call to Action

The last several days, I found myself thinking about a statement I made several years ago. In this modern era of communications, it is difficult for a freelance writer like myself to make retractions- and correct myself given that I only have a small stream of frequent readers. However, I often make mistakes whether it is an ampersand instead of a comma or an opinion statement that could be easily misunderstood. I would like to correct one such statement and set the record straight. Not just for my readers, but also for myself.

This weekend marks the beginning of what I consider one of the greatest tragedies in American history: Hurricane Katrina. This is further compounded by the potential devastation that awaits New Orleans residents when they return to the unknown losses that await them as Hurricane Gustav looms of the Gulf Coast and inches its way closer and closer to the Louisiana border.

Several years ago, I made an online statement that Nashvillians in need of benefits should apply “before the Louisiana people utilize whatever resources we have left.” In retrospect, that statement seems crass and insensitive. Now that several years have passed, I would certainly blame this disgusting war as the main culprit of domestic waste. Unfortunately, I cannot turn back the hands of time, and that statement exists— floating around for all eternity in the magical world of cyberspace. All I can do now is try my best to explain what prompted that statement and hope that those who read my previous piece will also see this retraction.

I would like to take this opportunity to explain what prompted such an apparently callous, insensitive comment and set the record straight.

We live in a country that rallies together when faced with domestic and international crises. We open our hearts, our homes, and our wallets for disaster relief here and overseas. We also live in a world where smaller crises exist everyday albeit poverty, hunger or homelessness. Such domestic problems tend to be chronic in nature and often slip under the radar. The battle lines have been drawn and we lost. We are losing. With every day that passes the casualties grow to astronomical proportions. We failed.

After Katrina, Tennessee residents took in many refugees. The local papers printed countless ads offering shelter, financial assistance, and job opportunities to “Survivors of Katrina.” After calling some of these people in response to their apparent act of altruism, I learned that these offers were only applicable to survivors of Katrina and not to local residents. I was angry.

I was angry because in the months before that devastating storm hit the Gulf Coast, there was an urgent call for people to open their homes to the 30,000 children and adolescents in desperate need of foster care. Children without a home. Children without a safety net. Our city did not respond. Our residents did not rise to the occasion and countless children continue to live in uncertain conditions without the necessities they need to thrive in this complicated, fragmented society.

After considerable thought, I came to the conclusion that the media and current policies that allow such unfortunate states of existence are partly to blame, but so too are the American people and the residents of this fine city that I like to think of as home. So why is it that we are so generous in times of urgent need by allowing pervasive states of poverty for our local residents and out children? Are they damaged goods? Are persons in poverty to blame for their circumstances? Are they too week? Are they somehow supposed to magically lift themselves out of the dark and somehow find the path into enlightenment of financial security? Is this the ultimate act of Social Darwinism where survival of the fittest means people who are fit to survive against all odds? Is it just a coincidence that the words indigent and indignant sound so similar?

As Hurricane Gustav approaches, I call upon our local residents to do more than just welcome the fleeing victims to open their hearts and their homes. I challenge each and every one of you to continue this charity after the storm has cleared. Even after the storm in the Gulf has moved past the coast and becomes another chapter in history, there is much to be done right here, right now. Do we accept the indignation of indigence and poverty with indifference? Or do we act?

We can do so much on the home front before our indifference creates a storm of domestic disaster. It is unfortunate for us that people have been too blind, too indifferent, and too complacent they do not even see such a storm brewing. But if you look, and if you listen, it is not hard to see how such a storm is brewing just beyond the horizon.

Elyssa Durant, Ed.M.
Nashville, TN