Sunday, January 20, 2013

Telephone Tracking Two

In last week’s blog entry, I described the various phone calls I made to Alex’s psychiatric nurse practitioner’s office and the laboratory where we have his blood tests done, trying to make arrangements for a blood draw. After talking with nurses and laboratory technicians back and forth, we were finally able to straighten out the details. As they say, “All’s well that ends well,” and the tests came off without a hitch. Thankfully, Alex cooperates nicely with blood draws, and yesterday we were able to do the follow-up tests easily and quickly. Of course, I decided to make a quick call to the lab before we went, which made things go even more smoothly, as the lab technician had everything arranged in advance before we arrived. St. Anthony’s Chesterton Health and Emergency Center has been a godsend to us because all of their staff are kind and pleasant and efficient. Now, we wait for the test results to see if Alex’s increased medication levels are within proper levels. I’m betting that I will have to call his nurse practitioner’s office to get the results this week, but since my telephone skills are sharp, I will be prepared.

In addition to checking on Alex’s medical tests, I have also been dealing with Medicaid by phone the past couple of weeks. Before Christmas, Indiana Medicaid sent me a letter requesting that I fax a copy of Alex’s financial records to them so that they can make sure he is still eligible. Although Alex has limited financial resources, he has a handful of shares of Disney stock his aunt and uncle gave him as a Christmas present a few years ago, and he has a checking account that Social Security wanted him to have as a place to deposit his disability checks. After sending a couple of disability payments to that account, Social Security decided—no surprise to us—that Alex wasn’t capable of managing his financial affairs and named me as his representative. Consequently, his checks are deposited in my checking account so that I can pay for his expenses, and his checking account basically goes unused.  Nonetheless, Medicaid needs to establish that Alex has minimal assets, and they require that I send them statements showing the value of his stocks and the balance of his checking account.

The day after I received the letter from Medicaid, I faxed copies of the financial records to them, as they requested. Imagine my surprise and frustration to receive a letter this month stating that Alex’s Medicaid benefits would be discontinued as of February 1st due to my “failure” to submit his financial records. Although we have private health insurance that pays for most of Alex’s medical expenses, Medicaid acts as a secondary health insurance for him and pays for his behavior therapy. In the future, Medicaid will pay for his support services, including the day program we hope will enroll him and transportation there, as well as eventually a supported living program. Losing these benefits would definitely have a deeply adverse effect on Alex’s future and would make the hours I spent filling out paperwork and pleading his case meaningless. I knew that I was going to have to intervene right away to make sure Alex didn’t lose these valuable resources.

As I pulled the financial records from his files, I also found a document with a time and date stamp proving that I had faxed the information they had requested in a timely fashion last month. I decided to fax all of these forms once again to prove I had not “failed” to submit them. In addition, I called Medicaid to attempt to straighten out this mess.  After waiting through the options menu and spending some time on hold, I spoke to an agent and explained what had happened. After going through his files, she discovered that they had, indeed, received the information I had faxed last month, but no one had bothered to enter it into the computer. She assured me that she would take care of updating his files, and there shouldn’t be a problem. A few minutes later she called me back to tell me that Alex would not be eligible based upon his resources. I asked her to explain that because I knew that he had the same, if not less, finances that he had when he applied. She told me that he must have $1500 or less. After adding his accounts again, I knew that he had less than the amount she stated, but decided not to argue with her and thanked her for her help.

Concerned that this matter still was not resolved, I decided to call again this week to make sure that Alex’s file had been corrected. Once again, I waited to speak with an agent, who pulled up Alex information and said that all of the data needed was there and that he was under the limit for resources. However, no one had bothered to send this information on to the state, so she assured me that she would take care of forwarding this information. As I did the last time I called the Medicaid office, I made notes of what they told me in case I need this information for future reference. Still not convinced that they have Alex’s information accurately recorded and sent to the proper department, despite their assurances, I will once again call this week to make sure his benefits will not be jeopardized by the careless record keeping of others.

As someone who takes organizing information to extremes, I have little patience with those who do not keep good track of important records, especially when my son’s future could be jeopardized. In talking with other parents, apparently our experience is not uncommon. Parents of special needs children have enough responsibility taking care of their children’s needs without having to supervise agencies who should be helping parents instead of making their lives more difficult by failing to keep track of information and accusing the parents of being noncompliant. I’m sure we will work out this issue soon, and I’m glad I have the organization and tenacity needed to accomplish this task. However, I’m still working on patience. I pray that God will help me with that so that I will learn to wait in peace instead of frustration, especially since I have at least two phone calls to make this week. As I make sure that Alex’s medical and financial needs are met, I’ll simply be fulfilling one of my roles as an autism mom—Alex’s personal assistant.

“Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that He has promised.” Hebrews 10:36


K. C. Wells said...

The Pam-o-dex strikes again! Hooray!!

Pam Byrne said...

Hi K.C.,
Thanks for your nice note. I'm going to start charging Alex a fee to be his personal assistant. ;)
Pam (a.k.a. Pam-o-dex)