A Brief Relief?

I saw a doctor and got temporary psych med prescriptions. I’m waiting for them to be ready. That should bring some relief by tonight. This doctor wanted me to alter an existing appointment, I forget why, so I go back Friday to see the kind, understanding, pretty doctor (locum) again. My regular doc is back soon, so she’ll be gone. 

Today’s doc was naturopathic and suggested cranio-sacral therapy (?) for PTSD in Wallingford. I’ll look it up. She says they found a way to get Medicaid to cover it. She also wants to believe my toe numbness is due to high blood sugar, but I’m seeing diabetics online who have the same side effect from the med I take and say it goes away as soon as they switch meds, so I want to try an alternative. I’ll try to do the intake for longer term psychiatry tomorrow. 

A small present I got myself arrived, so hopefully I can get the broadcast TV channels well and watch Jeopardy regularly. 

I got an email blast from a temp agency I worked for years ago, seeking an executive assistant. They’re interviewing me Monday morning. I expect absolutely nothing out of this. They treated me pretty badly in 2012-13 after I did a great job for them in 2011. I mentioned the idea of unionizing temp workers, and they banned me from their Facebook page. It rubs me the wrong way that they’re even open on MLK Day, let alone having people interview then. 

I emailed a bunch of information to the community mental health ombudsman, and he claims interest in helping but won’t deal over email. I’ve emailed and left phone messages for Larry Gossett about a few things, but the man never answers. I’m ready to vote for someone who responds to constituents, rare as that is. 

So call this all cautiously relieved. Never count your chickens before they’ve hatched.

UPDATE: Two meds filled, one not ready until tomorrow.

Gratuitous Torture by Valley Cities

After all this hassle, countless phone calls, voice mails, dead ends, being referred to the wrong people some of whom are out indefinitely, getting sent to voice mail boxes that were full, getting their nighttime message during the day, two weeks of medication withdrawal,messages not being returned, and more I can’t remember offhand; I finally am told that intake appointments aren’t scheduled at all. They’re on a walk-in basis weekdays 8:30-2. I can’t make it today, but that sure would have been helpful to know THREE FUCKING WEEKS AGO! ~€^}{]|<:5(;( 😑😑😑😩😩😑😑😑😩😑😑😑😩😩😑😩😩😩😩😩😑😑😑😑😑😑😑😑😑😑😑😑😑😑

No Heat Twice in a Month

Lisa,
We have a problem. Twice in the past month, my apartment has lost heat. Both times, I called DCI and filed a complaint. The first time, I never heard back from them, and my landlord, SHA, took five days to fix it despite the legally required 48 hour response time. They acted very non-chalant about it, saying it could take much longer, and there was nothing anyone could do about it, so I should just be patient. The second time, when I told SHA, I warned them that they faced citation and/or fine if they didn’t fix it in 48 hours. I didn’t hear back from DCI for five days. This time, SHA found the ability to fix the heat in 48 hours. 

But in neither case did DCI even inspect my apartment. In neither case did they respond within the 48 hour limit. They never contacted SHA, so the 48 hour clock never started ticking. Had I not gotten lucky, there would have been no enforcement of the law whatsoever. 

I fully expect my heat to go out again this winter because SHA is cheap and values nothing less than their disabled, impoverished tenants. I highly doubt they fixed the heat any more than necessary to keep it running a couple more weeks. I shouldn’t have to take my chances with DCI. They are not doing their job or enforcing the law. With no enforcement, tenants don’t really have any rights. And I’m one of the lucky ones whose native language is English, who can write articulately, who doesn’t have to worry about deportation, who knows my rights, who has professional experience working in housing and homelessness, and who can make savvy decisions about what scares landlords into following the law. This is totally unacceptable and even immoral. Please help. 

What tenants really need is the no-brainer right to repair and deduct. It works, and it gives renters some agency over their own living situation.

[Written to Seattle Councilwoman Lisa Herbold, Chair of the housing committee and huge help to tenants in her district or not; my own Councilman Bruce Harrell couldn’t care less]

Insurers Leaving Health Exchanges–What to Do?

This certainly doesn’t look good for Obamacare

So from my perspective, the problem here is simple and was foreseen, and the solution is simple, but virtually impossible.

1) United, Humana, and now Aetna are cutting their participation in the exchanges because they can’t turn a profit. Answer: Health insurers should be banned from making profits, as every other developed nation does. Make them public, non-profit, or cooperatives.

2) Aetna is using its large market share to punish/bully the administration for nixing a merger it wanted. This should have the same solution.

3) Insurers are getting too many new (sick) subscribers at once, and/or their existing beneficiaries are getting sicker. But the New York Times recently reported that not only has Obamacare cut the uninsured rate to a modern low (<10%), but it is actually making Americans healthier. At root, those are the fundamental, critical goals of health reform–not profitability or federal deficits and debt. Let’s keep this in mind. So how to solve #3? Health insurance, like voter registration, doesn’t work when people are excluded by default unless they act. Both need to be automatic–in this case so that healthier people who are cheaper to insure are paying into the system. Shared risk is a basic principle of insurance.

But that alone isn’t enough. We still have a crazy patchwork system where people get their health care in different ways from different places. Each comes with a different population, motive, administration, needs…this complication is a big pain for patients and providers, AND it’s a major reason for our very high administrative costs. Our political system isn’t ready to face this reality, but it’s unsustainable and has to end.

WE MUST GET EVERY AMERICAN ON THE SAME HEALTH SYSTEM.

I don’t care as much aboutΒ which one it is; the imperative is to get everyone on Medicare (like Canada), or everyone on a fully socialized VA/IHS system (like the UK), or everyone on the exchanges or an employer-based system (like Germany). Then you greatly simplify everything, slashing administrative costs, and have one giant risk pool comprised of the whole country. No system is olderΒ or sicker or poorer. There are no big year to year changes because change happens slowly in a group of 320 million. And access to and quality of care are equal forΒ everyone. Many of our health care problems will persist until we do this.

Are You “Safe”?

The language used by US mental health providers around suicide is very fucked up. They like to ask if you are “safe”, which in fact doesn’t mean safe at all. It means going to stay alive–keep suffering. As long as the police are at large, you are obviously not safe. No one in poverty, with a disability, or who’s a color other than white is safe. And as long as you’re stuck in the 3rd world backwater that is the US, making sure you suffer as much as possible and can’t get anything resembling help, you are obviously not safe. In fact, the only time you truly ARE safe is when you are dead.
The other thing they like to ask is “whether you are suicidal”. But like pornography, this is never defined–because we really don’t want to talk about it, no matter how necessary. There is a big difference between having a loaded gun pointed at your head about to pull the trigger, and drawing the abundantly rational conclusion that you’d rather be dead, or would be better off ending than prolonging your inescapable suffering. If suicide were as easy as flipping a switch or pushing a button, I’d have done it a million times already. If I were asked whether I’d rather be alive or dead, there’s only a generous maximum of 10% of the time when I’d want to be alive. I’m old enough and smart enough to have lots of experience and knowledge and know what the hell I’m talking about. But it should be obvious that, even though I would almost always rather be dead than alive, that doesn’t mean I’m imminently about to kill myself (I can only wish). There is a long continuum here, but like most things, we ignore it, put a wholly inadequate label on it, and pretend it’s a simple dichotomy. And woe to anyone in pain who answers one of these questions “incorrectly”. The police will come for you, and you’ll likely be killed violently.

19 May 2016

I met with the vets opening the Columbia City clinic. I think it went well. They invited me to their opening party next month and said I could bring a stack of business cards. They also might have a receptionist job in a while, though it would be full time and sounds stressful. At least they might keep me in mind when they’re ready to hire one. 

  1. I got a used water filter/tank and went to the disability law office to ask about doing some forms SSA sent. They said I can disregard them entirely! πŸ˜€

Then I called to check on my food stamp application. They already have at least 9 documents from me totaling 36 pages. But they want more! They want self-employment business statements that don’t exist. They want bank statements I already gave them (because they need more information, which is somehow gained by sending more copies of the same documents). And now that they’ve taken so long to process my application (April 22nd online), they want all my statements for April. They SAY that should be enough and my benefits should resume soon after they get this round of paperwork, and that my benefits will be retroactive to my application date. But I’ve also been told many times in the past that they never give retroactive benefits (like the Utility Discount Program, which I downloaded 6 forms to apply for). I have stable housing, no addictions, and no severe mental illnesses. If you were homeless, alcoholic, and untreated schizophrenic; how on EARTH could you navigate all these hurdles just to get money for groceries? It’s infuriating. 
Going to get my free ice cream and look for stuff at Goodwill, then pick up a few more things from the house to bring home. New client visit postponed to tomorrow. So far today, I’ve ridden the 2, 7, 36, and Link. (Update: the 10 and First Hill streetcar too)

Food Stamp Fraud? Yeah, Right!

I’m doing paperwork to get food stamps back. There’s a 1 page form I had to partially fill out then forward to the temp agency so they can sign that I haven’t worked for them since February. Monthly bank statements January-April 2016 for both my credit union (8 pages total) and my online bank (12 pages total). DSHS wants my self-employment income separated by month for the last year, so I’ll have to gather and print lots of PayPal records. Or perhaps my 17-page tax return for 2015. Then they want a copy of my new lease showing my rent (which I just found out today isn’t done). Each document has to have your Social Security number or Client ID number.
Β 
You can’t just email them PDFs–they don’t use email yet. You can fax them, but the free online fax services only let you send 1 page per day each, then you start paying. So I end up using slow, tree-killing snail mail.
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All this to get a paltry benefit that doesn’t cover a month’s groceries, with a card that stigmatizes you as a food stamp recipient, heavily restricts what you can buy and where, isn’t getting a security chip, and doesn’t work in mobile/virtual wallets.
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AND THEY’RE WORRIED ABOUT FRAUD??? It’s long past time this bureaucratic, complicated, uncoordinated, slow, inefficient, ineffective, classist, demeaning rigamarole got replaced by a simple guaranteed basic income for all.