Friday, June 12, 2009

The Chickens are Coming Home to Roost

I've seen several consumers today who've received the same letter from Social Security. Because of the additional cuts to the California State Supplement, many SSI recipients now receive too much money to qualify for SSI linked Medi-Cal. The last consumer I saw now has an SSDI payment of $855.00, $5 over the standard SSI payment of $850.
Therefore, according to the letter from SSA, it is her responsibility to contact the Department of Public Social Services here in LA county to presumably get her Medi-cal eligibility category changed from SSI-linked to an Aged, Disabled Federal Poverty Level category. This itself should not constitute much of a problem. It does, however, add insult to injury by requiring these folks who are now receiving less money to navigate yet one more layer of nearly impenetrable bureaucracy.
The following is the body of a letter I wrote to Sheila Keuhl, former state assembly person who seems to be the one and only visible opponent of these draconian cuts proposed by the governor... most of which may be adopted:

Hello, Sheila

My name is Michael Van Essen. I am the Benefits Establishment Specialist for Pacific Clinics, a Behavioral Health nonprofit with over 70 sites throughout Southern California. I work with our mentally ill consumers, their case managers, therapists and other clinical staff to make sure that those who need SSI/SSDI Medicare and Medi-Cal get access to those benefits. I also help those who have the benefits maintain them so that their income and health care coverage safety nets remain strong and intact.

The latest SSI state supplement reduction has eliminated SSI payment eligibility for anyone whose SSDI income now exceeds the State SSI payments maximum. In fact, I just saw a consumer who received a letter from Social Security stating that because of the July 1 $20 deduction, she no longer has access to SSI linked Medi-Cal and that she will have to contact the Department of Public Social Services to get her Medi-Cal status changed… so not only are those poor, ill and disenfranchised people getting less money, they’ve also have another layer of bureaucracy to navigate simply to maintain their health care coverage status quo.

This is unconscionable! This state cannot allow the budget catastrophe to be placed on the backs of the ill and disabled. We all know the 800 lb. gorilla in the room is Prop 13. If this state had reasonable property tax laws, particularly for businesses and corporations, we wouldn’t have to be jumping through these hoops now to balance a budget that has run amok primarily due to the antics of the Jarvis Anti-Tax movement.

I guess I am venting here and I thank you for the opportunity to do so. We have, it seems, nothing to look forward to but more cuts, more pain and more poverty. Keep up the good work. I will be reading your e-mails and essays avidly.

Here is a link to Ms Keuhl's website:

If you're interested you can sign up to receive the information she publishes.

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