“Since January, everything that can go wrong has,” she said. Her mother was in a nursing home. She had problems of her own, too. She wasn’t the first loved one I’d seen overburdened with all the financial and medical problems of a parent in addition to her own.
She dropped a large stack of papers, folders, and a binder on my desk. I started sifting through them, looking for any bits of information I could clarify.
The largest stack was a copy of a Medicaid application submitted for her mom. It was the third application in as many months. The first application she had tried herself. Denied. A hospital worker prepared the second. Denied. This one was prepared by someone in the nursing home’s business office.
At least I could tell her this application wasn’t denied—yet. The key was a single piece of paper, front and back, titled “Notice of Proof Needed.” It said she had one week to get more proof of her mother’s finances, or the application would be denied. Just like the others had been.
She looked exasperated when I explained this. “I’ve already given them all that, many times.” But whatever she gave them wasn’t enough. Unfortunately, the notice didn’t tell her what she really needed to get.
On top of all that, when she called the county to ask questions, the workers wouldn’t talk to her. They said they didn’t have an authorization to speak to her. I looked at the application and saw the problem: the authorization form had been submitted without a required signature. A quick call and a fax fixed that, at least.
But that wasn’t the only mistake the nursing home had made on the application. I circled a few others for her. Of course, the home was pressuring her to pay all the while—they even suggested using her own credit card.
At the end of it all she thanked me for looking things over and helping her understand. That was the first time she didn’t sound frustrated or angry or overwhelmed. It wasn’t over; not by a long shot. But at least she finally knew what she had to do and had a chance.