Monday, November 2, 2009

The Letter to Our Social Workers Supervisor: The Struggle for Medi-Cal Continues...

I just finished the letter I'm writing to our social worker's supervisor. If I don't hear from him (and if he's anything like his coworkers I'm not sure I expect to) I'm going to write our state representatives and the newspaper. I really hope this can be resolved. Our state is so inefficient it's disgusting. Here's the body of the letter:

I wanted to start by briefly going over the experience that has led me to write this letter. We first applied for Medi-Cal when my husband lost his job and we lost our health insurance in July 2008. We applied with Healthy Families for our daughter, checking the box that said that we would like to be considered for Medi-Cal too. Since we had no income at the time we didn’t qualify for Healthy Families, and in September our application came to your office. I received a new packet and returned it to Health and Human Services immediately. And then I waited and waited, paying cash for our health expenses (we still had a small savings back in those days). I attempted to contact our first social worker, by calling and then by leaving notes in the office, in December. A month later, after multiple phone calls, I asked to speak to a supervisor (it had been over four months since we’d completed our application and we hadn’t heard anything) and for the first time our social worker decided we deserved a call back. She explained that she was very busy but that our application was a top priority.

She sent me a list of a few documents that hadn’t been asked for in our initial packet. I filled them out right away and sent them back. And we waited. And waited. In spring I received notice that we had a new social worker and that they didn’t have all of our pay stubs. The pay stubs were something we had given copies of to our last social worker, but I still went down to the storage locker, made copies and brought them in (they were due the day after we received the letter).

In July we finally received notice that we had been rejected because we had several hundred dollars too much in our savings. The letter said that if we had proof that we had paid that money out in medical fees, we would qualify for Medi-Cal. We had paid thousands of dollars in medical bills, so I made copies of the bills and proof of payment and brought them in to the office. I was told that that ought to fix the problem.

Shortly after we received another rejection letter stating the same thing (that we had too much in savings when we applied but that if we brought in medical bills to prove that we’d spent it we would qualify). At this point I was tired. It had been 11 months since I’d applied and I had called and left so many notes, and had made absolutely no progress.

At this point my husband and I decided to reapply because we didn’t seem to be getting anywhere.

In August we finally sat down with our new “new social worker” (at least number 3 I believe). We were meticulous. We brought ever paper on the list. We filled out every form and asked questions to make sure we didn’t leave a thing out. We were way under the income requirement and our savings is gone. We were assured that everything was in order this time.

It is now November 2009 (15 months since we applied) and we have yet to be notified in writing about the status of our Medi-Cal application. Our new social worker (#4? Dennis) told my husband that we had been notified that we had been rejected. We have not. I have saved every piece of paper I have received from your office and filed it away. This has exceeded the initial 45 days we were promised over and over again.

When my husband Paul asked how this could possibly have been denied he was told that we were denied because we are still married. I’m sure that this can’t possibly be correct, because the state of California couldn’t possibly engage in such discriminatory, anti-family policies. Since Dennis was wrong about us being notified in writing, perhaps he’s also wrong that our application has been denied? I must admit that his relationship with us so far hardly inspires confidence.

We’ve come into the office time and again and left note after note for Dennis (our current social worker), but he refuses to meet with us and does not return our calls or notes. We’re really not sure where to turn. Any help you could offer would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you for your time.


  1. Having no health insurance sucks. Have you tried applying for medicade? The county in the state I live in also helps defer costs. Have you contacted Catholic Charities? They advocate for those who are having problems. Perhaps your local chapter can steer you to the right people.

    Sorry. When I see a major problem, I tend to go into dig around mode. I don't like people taking advantage of other people. So far I've been lucky with health insurance coverage, but once my hubby graduates from school we'll have to buy private until he finds a job. Hopefully all that will over lap.

  2. From your photos it does appear that you are not eligible. You are not black, brown or yellow. Did they NOT explain that part to you? They're all having a big laugh at the office at your expense, literally. YOU paid for it in all those prior year.

  3. Hi deltaflute-
    The program that we've been having all these troubles with is the California version of medicade. It's amazing that they've made it so difficult, but we have been told by people who work in the office that our social worker is known as a liar who makes things purposefully difficult for his clients, so that they give up and go away.

    I volunteer in our parishes office, and put the word out a while back about what was going on. So far the suggestion has been to keep at it and to write this letter. If that doesn't work they said to write to the local newspaper and we're also planning on writing to our state representatives if we haven't heard anything in a week.

    One of the problems is that our Catholic Charities have their hands really full because the mill in our town (which is a lumber town) just burnt down and so they're busy keeping food on people's tables.

    We're hoping this letter works. If not, on to the next step.

  4. Hi Vicki-
    The funny thing is that I'm have both Algonquin and African blood (my dad's family has been in the US since the 1600s in Virginia and have the family tree going way, way back). My husband kept joking about it and saying I should claim it on the forms (because I never claim it, I mean, I have blue eyes! It would seem ridiculous!) but we didn't. Maybe we should have!

  5. Hi Cam,
    I will keep praying that this will all work out in the end. As for the comment about race, I saw many white people on welfare during my internship. I do not think this is the issue, but rather social workers who do a very sloppy job. Going to your state representative is probably what will work the best, as they control the purse strings of the program.

  6. Hi,

    First of all - excellent letter! I can tell you that very few people bother to write letters anymore, and if one person does, you can be darn sure that there are plenty more who share your views and frustration.

    Personally, I wouldn't wait another second to contact your representatives AND the newspaper. (My dh has worked his entire life in the broadcast media, and we know that the squeaky wheel gets the grease - especially a well-spoken and literate squeaky wheel!) I would also seriously consider contacting the assignment editors at your local TV stations; one story will reach far more people than a letter to the editor, so I would cover all your bases. The "hook" there is so-called denial of coverage to married people, and the ridiculous length of time you've been at this. Keep everything short, sweet and to the point. You never know what will strike a nerve with the TV people, so nothing ventured, nothing gained.

    God Bless, and I hope you hear some good news soon.

  7. Hi Maria-
    I think it definitely is an issue of a sloppy social worker who does whatever he can to get out of work. His co-workers certainly don't think much of him. Thank you for the prayers, We delivered the letter this morning and are giving the supervisor one week before we contact pretty much everyone we can think of!

  8. Hi dixieeagle-
    I am having a hard time waiting (I found all the info for our representatives last night) but we're going to give him to the end of the week since we have only talked to the supervisor once (as I type this it even sounds ridiculous... I mean we did get him a message once and nothing has happened. We don't expect anything from this letter, but I will be adding the fact that we sent it and contacted him and the supervisor did nothing if we don't hear back by the end of the week.

    Thanks for the idea about the local tv stations. They actually do investigate stuff like this every once in a while, so they might be interested.

    I'll definitely give periodic updates on how things are going with it here. Hopefully good news soon!

  9. You were denied because you are white and married.
    And thats the Gods honest truth. The bright side is you statistically will not be under their cold charity much longer because you and your husband will find a way out, but not for long since soon we will all be subject to the cold charity of democratic socialism.

    Can you imagine an entire system based on this kind of system as the medi-cal system, and penalties imposed on you if you aren't approved yet don't maintain a health insurance plan???

    And there will be penalties.

    That will be our new healthcare plan.


    BTW, you have a wonderful blog and absolutely gorgeous family.

  10. PS: Social workers frown on homemakers as well.

  11. Apparently they frown on headcoverings as well. I went in today, because now that I'm pregnant I really should qualify, for the term of the pregnancy, and the woman at the front, who has always been sweet in the past, scowled, and was transformed into an absolute monster. It was bizarre. I was wearing the snood since we'd come from Mass. I asked for help filling out the form (because we've learned that no matter what we do, when we do it on our own, it's wrong) and she said "no, you have to do it on your own." I'm pretty sure that's not legal, by their own guidelines. When I tried to talk to her she just got ruder and ruder. My husband, who sees her at work and has always thought she was nice was baffled.


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