Saturday, June 22, 2013

While The Poor Get Poorer

With the Medicaid Expansion mandated by the Affordable Care Act comes a very disturbing issue. New York State chose to offset it's costs by switching all Medicaid to HMO insurance. This is turning out to be just another way to punish people for getting old and needing help.

It seems that our county has more than it's share of elderly and disabled receiving Meals On Wheels. Since the HMO now makes the rules, they have decided in their infinite wisdom that a well balanced meal delivered to the elderly isn't something that they want to pay for, so NO Medicaid recipient who has been receiving those meals will continue to do so unless they wish to pay out of their own pockets for them. Cost of the meal? Try $7.75 a day.

I'm of two minds about this. There's a part of me that wants to be outraged over all this and another part of me that is amused by the necessity for neglectful family members to actually have to do something for their parent. Case managers for the county are contacting family members to explain this situation and they are telling them what the solution is going to be. There are options involved.

1. Pay for the MOWs themselves if the client can't.

2. Spend some time at the parent's home cooking a weeks worth of meals, portion them out so that said parent can reheat in the microwave.

3. Make sure that parent has his/her EBT card available or enough money so that the aide that Medicaid HMOs are willing to pay a couple of extra hours per week can shop and cook for the parent.

Personally, out of sheer selfishness I'm hoping for the third option. I need more hours.

Strangely, my experience has been that the low income families will step up and handle the hot meal situation themselves even though it presents quite a burden for them. It's the more affluent families that seem to feel they don't owe their parents a damn thing. When I began to notice that trend I thought it was my imagination, however, the owner of a rival home care company says the same thing.

It seems that Generation Xers, or The Millennials, whichever you prefer, are firm believers that life is all about ME. So what if Mom and Dad sacrificed their own desires to raise them? They didn't ask them to do that. They didn't even ask to be born. Just once I'd like to say something along the lines of "Look at how much more money they'd have in retirement if your parent's hadn't fed you, clothed you, put you thru college and bailed your selfish little asses out every time you maxed out your credit." I'm not allowed, for which I am eternally sorry.

I need the work. I'm about to start the SNAP Challenge, not as an exercise in curiosity. I've lost close to $400/ month income with the uncertainty around what Medicaid will now cover. Hubs business only took in $10,000 in the past 3 months, and having to spend $4500 of that to put another engine into the pumper truck he needs in order to make that money, screwed us out of any income from that at all. I can't count on his income to cover what it has in the past.

The only bill other than basic living expenses we have is the satellites and I can't disconnect the internet satellite since I need it to file the NYS taxes on his business that are now e-file only. So, the belt tightening must come from the food budget.

Instead of going to my favorite grocer where you can find some decent deals but prices are kind of high, I went to Aldi's. After today I'm impressed with their fresh produce, if I stay that way remains to be seen. Prices were considerably lower than in any other store and I was able to buy a weeks worth of groceries for $35.04. I went to Walmart for the cat food and out of my $50 budget, I have $5 left over. That will buy me my organic steel cut oatmeal so I can continue to start my days on a healthy note. I have blueberries to add to tomorrow's bowl. Regular price in the usual store is $2.89. Price at Aldi's for the same pint was $1.69. I don't know about anyone else, but I call that a WIN!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

People Are Strange

Now there's a simple minded title for you. It's also a song by the Doors that tends to suddenly play in my head when I read the latest bit of nonsense that the professional left has to say for itself. It's not that the song itself has anything to do with what I might be reading, it just happens to be that I think in song titles. I can't do it intentionally, I've tried and nothing happens.

Lately, while reading the political pundits I'm hearing a lot of "White Rabbit" by Jefferson Airplane. Probably the only time I've ever had an earworm that actually fits the content of the article. Actually, maybe there is another time I've had an earworm that fit the topic of an article.

Just yesterday I was reading that a member of the GOP believes that the male fetus masturbates in utero. Initially I was all "Say WHAAAAA?" and then, there it was, "Turning Japanese" by the Vapors.

The House, in it's infinite capacity for ignoring real world problems and focusing on women's bodies, has passed an anti-abortion bill. On the surface, it looks like a sheer waste of time since if it passes the Senate, our President won't sign it. My problem with it is that for some people it has become more evidence that the GOP is conducting business according to the will of the people and it's the President who is being an obstructionist.

Is the professional left, with it's many highly recommended blogs like the Nation or Salon doing anything to counter that idea? No, of course not. They're too busy with drones, Prism, NSA, NDAA and attacking people who don't agree with their oh so very intelligent conclusions.

They rant, rave and blame everyone else for our failure to "have nice things". I, on the other hand, spend my time wondering why they don't see that real world problems like jobs, crumbling infrastructure and failure of our educational system aren't more important than government transparency?

I live in an area where unemployment is still close to 10%. There are 2500 unemployed in the city I work in. Population there is 32,000. There were 12 jobs listed in last night's local paper. More than half of those were minimum wage offers.

My low income seniors have had as much as $50 a month cut from their food stamps. Meals on Wheels have  lost so much in their budget that it's affecting the food being served to those who receive the meals and any new applicants are given temporary meals only if they've been recently discharged from hospital or rehab. They receive the meals for 10 days and then are placed on a waiting list until something changes.

Oh dear. I've just given myself an earworm...."Think" by Aretha Franklin. I always did like that song.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

A Letter From Reality

The following is a letter to the editor of our local paper.

Government doesn’t call back

We are the old, sick, tired, ugly, handicapped, blind, deaf, slow, etc. and evidently a burden to society. We have done nothing wrong except to get old. The government wants to take away our Social Security, Medicare, retirement, house, etc.
We ask for help from different agencies, and it seems they do not have time for us. They can’t answer the phone when you call, but will get back to you. Well, my experience is that I never get a call back. I guess they are too busy.
So what are our options? We pray that God will take us away very soon, or can someone help us? I thank you for reading this letter. I wish you well and may God bless you.

I don't know this woman, however, for me, she has become the face of every American senior who has the need for help and can't get it thanks to the affects of the sequester on the programs she needs to remain independent.

I know her name, I'm not publishing it here. If I am correct about who she is, then she was one of 2 or 3 sisters who never married. All other members of her family have passed away. She has no one to turn to and apparently those she has sought help from have let her down.

She is the first of many more old or handicapped Americans who will be shoved into the ditch by the Republican Party in it's zeal to step on the least of us to benefit those who have the most. They do this in the name of their religion which has little to do with Jesus and much to do with money.

This woman's plight is the result of who we've become as a society. Go right on ignoring her since some point in the future she will become you.

Monday, June 3, 2013

The Grass Is Always Greener Someplace Else

We had an inservice at work this past week. Conversations with other long term employees informed me that most of them are looking to supplement their incomes via working for another agency. Cuts have occurred in their hours the same way they have in mine, and they aren't willing to wait and see if things improve.

I didn't say anything to them, but years of being the on-call coordinator and having to deal with these people on a regular basis has made me understand they won't last long at other agencies. It's not the women themselves, it's the other agencies policies that will present problems. Add to that the fact that other agencies aren't getting cases any more than we are and there's a rude awakening in store for them.

Other agencies pay more and when things are tight, that money looks good. However, our ladies that won't take cases because they won't drive outside the city will find that they have to take the cases the agencies call them to take. If one lives in one city and the case offered is in another, you refuse and they write you up. You also don't get to pick and choose what hours you will work. Three write ups for refusing cases and you are out the door. I can't count the number of times I called these women to cover cases and was refused due to the distance they would have had to drive.

Two of the agencies don't pay travel for the distances they expect you to drive. They get around that by not actually employing you per se. You are an employee of the family or the client, not the agency. One other agency pays hourly rate, travel time plus mileage but, if they want you to take a case that is 50 miles away, you take it, you have no choice.

There were times that these women were contributing factors to the inability on the part of the company to take cases. In order to take cases, someone needs to fill the case. If you can't fill them, those cases will go to other agencies where employees don't have the choices we have. We are now reaping what we've sown so I won't complain about my lack of hours even though I need some. I just need to remind myself to tell the new coordinator what I'm available for and see what happens then.