medicaid, nebraska style

Governor Heineman looks friendly enough.

“…As governor, Heineman worked with the Nebraska Legislature to pass the largest tax cut in state history. He also has pushed for legislation that would make the state’s Department of Health and Human Services more accountable to citizens….” Excerpt from Dave Heineman’s Wikipedia entry.

New years usually mean little to me and often are the start of the next round of bureaucratic nightmares associated with my mother’s finances. This is a Medicaid episode, courtesy of the gutted Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, the agency Heineman “made more accountable to citizens“.

Today, I had a telephone interview appointment with the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Resources. The letter notifying me gave a toll-free telephone number and the numbers to punch in to get to the service I needed. My interview was for 7:30 this morning.

I called the provided telephone number at 7:30. An automated voice gizmo tried to direct me through the stages of hell, but, when I became frustrated and yelled some obscenities into the phone, it became confused, even sad that it no longer knew what I wanted. Neither did I. I punched the end call button on my phone.

I redialed the toll-free number. The pleasant male voice had forgotten I existed, so was more cooperative the second time…until I accidentally hit a wrong key on the instruction to give my mother’s birth date. SHIT! I punched the end call button on my phone. Twenty minutes passed from start of ordeal to nowhere. I called again.

A human female answered, but informed me I had the wrong number.

Yep! Dialing error! I called a fourth time.

I mean, he's a politician, but an honest and sincere bloke.

Finally, my brain and fingers worked together to get me on to the right line. The male voice assured me I’d get to talk with a human as soon as one was available.

Thanks to Governor David Heineman and the State Legislature of Nebraska, the human I used to talk with face to face in my home town no longer existed as an employee of the Department of Health and Human Services. Her position was one of many cut in the effort to make the DH&HS “more accountable to citizens” (Sic).

The two DH&HS humans I talked with in my hometown over the years both were helpful, caring, competent individuals who walked me through the process of documentation and certification for the services my mother required. I tried to focus on that while I waited, and waited, and waited for this human the automated male voice promised me was still unavailable: I WAS MAD!

Yeah. Then the human came on the line, 36 minutes after the ordeal started, the interview took less than five minutes, plus ten more for me to rant on about the changes the governor’s budget cutting cost in terms of convenience, ease of access to the system, and general satisfaction with a necessary bureaucracy.

The human was helpful, caring, competent, and I told her so, thanking her for being part of the humans I’d had positive experiences working with in her agency. Actually, every human in her agency has been very helpful.

Sometimes the price of saving dollars by cutting labor is reduced service, dissatisfaction, confusion, a desire to eliminate the politicians responsible from their positions. My nearly 98-year-old mother could not deal with this. I can but catch myself thinking I can’t wait until I don’t have to (i.e. when my mother is dead, so I feel shame and guilt for the thought because it isn’t what I wish for her) or thinking I hope I’m dead before I have to make use of the service (i.e. a death wish for myself or a sign of a self-destructive nature, though I actually hope I live as long as God wishes for me).

No, I hope Heineman, who hopes to win the seat of Senator Ben Nelson (Democrat, Nebraska), who isn’t running again, has a terrible fall from his high and mighty position to become a pauper dependent on the hand outs of the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. He’s never experienced deprivation, and I wish tons of that on him. I’ll start the process by voting for anyone but Heineman for Senator to replace Nelson.

I hope to participate in a revolution to wipe that smile off your face, Dave. I wouldn't vote for you for dog catcher!

P.S. Have I ever told you how I actually could have saved time driving to the next town to the Social Security Administration’s office rather than trying to contact them by telephone for a simple change of address on my mother father and me? Yep, An hour and a half wrestling with an automated voice system, with no human making an appearance.

In frustration, I drove to that nearby town (a fifty minute drive), stopped by the office, where, after the armed guard decided I wasn’t a terrorist – he had his hand on his gun, and asked suspiciously paranoid questions of me – he directed me to a pleasant, unarmed lady in a cubicle. Whew! Maybe he thought I had a saber in my cane!

The lady asked me for my parents’ Social Security Numbers, which I’d forgotten to bring with me. She said it didn’t matter, that she could pull up their information by their names. She asked me a couple of verification questions on the files she pulled up on her terminal, made the changes, and I was on my way home, mission accomplished! No gunshot wounds or worse.

P.P.S. This website’s proofreader doesn’t like my characterization of the various humans as “ladies“, though I can assure you they are, and “Bias Language” (sic) is a silly reason to highlight under the circumstances. It does allow “women” and “female humans“. I’m in no mood for political correctness today.

P.P.P.S What’s that saying about governments that fear their citizens? Must Google that.

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