Classist, Ableist Health Care

Can’t seem to get med refills or doctor appointment before leaving town. They interrupt and don’t listen to you. I even got hung up on trying to explain why people with autism hate talking on the phone and why it’s such a problem for a supposed mental health provider. Hardly any locations in the city or accessible without a car. I don’t know if I’ll be in drug withdrawal for the two weeks I’m in Columbus. This is how Medicaid and King County Community mental health work. Programs for the poor are poor programs.

Pet Sitting Bad for Sleep Disorders

For all the bullshit about sleep “hygiene”–as if it’s an issue of cleanliness or moral weakness–it seems bloody obvious that sleeping in a different place every weekend with different animals, noises, beds, etc. is one of the MOST disruptive things you could do to your sleep. I’ve been pet sitting for 3 1/2 years, but not one health care provider pontificating at me about sleep has bothered to consider that. I need to be at home. Which means I need a different source of income. Which should be SSDI, but you can die waiting for that. I just managed to summon all the energy to arrange a trip to Florida; I’m in no position to fight the disability denials or start something like online editing for hire. I need someone to help me with that stuff, the energy of initial startup, but that would require them to be paid for their time. And a minimum wage sure as hell won’t do that, no matter how high or low. But situations like mine are invisible to those who choose a solution based on ideology, insist it’s perfect and ideal, and blind themselves to the human suffering it causes. I’m just collateral damage.

Today in Poverty

So. Two weeks ago I saw the doctor. She referred me to physical therapy for my arm and an eye doctor for regular checkup (eyes are vulnerable to diabetes). At the Poor People Clinic, referrals never work properly, so neither place had received one from the clinic. I called the PPC and had to insist to speak to the referral coordinator, and ask specifically when they sent the referrals and how. She repeatedly interrupted me, which is infuriating when your brain is autistic, but I try to explain that and people just get indignant. How dare you call out their rudeness! It’s not like they use email or have website where you can do this. Of course, this woman reflexively blamed the clinics and declared there’s no problem with the PPC referral system, even though another worker there explicitly told me otherwise when a previous one took 6 weeks of fighting to get through. She said she’d call the clinics and get back to me. She called back later and said the clinics had received the referrals. I asked when that happened, and she just said Yes, they got them. I again asked when, and she admitted it only happened today. Her earlier claim was a lie, and if I weren’t angry and persistent about this, I’d probably spend another 6 weeks playing go-between among the clinics to get my PT and eye check.
 
Then I called the disability law firm seeking a second opinion. I’ve left them messages before, and they say they’ll call you back in 24 hours, but they’ve never called me back. Someone took some information from me and said they’d call back. I wouldn’t bet on it. My appeal hearing is scheduled for March, and the judge warned that she won’t grant another delay without a “compelling” reason. The clock is ticking, and I’m apparently better off withdrawing my 2 1/2 year old claim and starting a new one (so, July 2019?) than getting an adverse ruling on this one. You see why I want to make sure before I kill and restart the process.
 
The client I’m sitting for has a home “security” system and seems irrationally worried about crime. So when I leave to walk another dog, I set it before leaving. What I apparently forgot is that it has motion sensors inside, and that I’m supposed to leave two big dogs shut in a bedroom while I’m out so they don’t trip it (I don’t think the welfare of animals should be dictated by alarm systems). Apparently they did. While on the bus to walk another dog, client texted me saying the “security” people called. He asked several questions about what’s going on and what I did. He had me call them to explain the alarm, disable it, and cancel the police call. So I had to give them my name, client’s name, and his address and password. Over the phone. From the bus–where riders around you can hear what you say. Then client told me the alarm is pretty loud and might scare the dogs. So this comes full circle causing lots of frustration while accomplishing nothing. The alarm system that was triggered by dogs tripping a living room motion sensor–not any kind of theft, burglary, or crime–jarred the dogs. And bothered my client while he’s on vacation, and interrupted me from my normal day, making me worry about the dogs and the client’s reaction toward me.
 
These systems do not deter crime. They do not protect property. They do not increase anyone’s safety. What they do is prey on racist fear of cities (Seattle has little crime among big US cities), constantly create false alarms (this is hardly my first time), and make lots of profits for the “security” industry. (Recall Rep. Darrell Issa made his fortune on car alarms) They exploit and increase fear, anxiety, aggressiveness, harmful stereotypes, and division among people. They make us afraid of and alienated from each other. Ironically, the reason it takes me so long to get around town is our mediocre transit system; driving is faster, but much more likely to kill you–compared to both riding transit and being a crime victim. The press sensationalizes crime, while car “accidents” are treated only as traffic issues. But if you look at mortality rates, ignoring the causes of death, they are lower in cities because we use cars less, and cars cause more death than crime. If your goal is to avoid crime (which is no more or less than what WE define it to be), move to the suburbs. If your goal is to stay alive, move to the city.

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.

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]

Income-Based Transit Fares!

Please sign this petition against 2nd class transit. Here are my comments:

ORCA Lift is a great program, and I commend you for taking the leadership to implement a low-income fare in a major jurisdiction like King County. As a transit junkie and advocate, I know there are many good reasons for shifting fare collection away from paper and toward smart cards. One of these is the ability to create just about any fare category you want, and charge it to targeted populations. So I’m interested in working *with* ORCA rather than seeking a step backward (in the long term) toward paper fare media.

I appreciate the rationale for peak-hour and two-zone surcharges; they make sense from a transportation perspective. And I understand the reasons for having senior, disabled, and youth fares too–I use an RRFP myself. But it seems to me that these last three are indirect attempts to help people who really need it, which is mostly people with the least money. And a large share of peak-hour commuters paying both the distance and rush hour premiums are probably employees whose fares are subsidized by their employers anyway, so the surcharges raise more money but don’t have the transportation or location effects desired.

I increasingly believe that simplicity is of great and underappreciated importance, and income inequality nationally and locally has become so great that I think it’s now more important than the reasons for, and effects of, the rush hour and two-zone surcharges. So I propose that, short of violating any federal requirements, Metro end the surcharges, abolish the special senior, disabled, and youth fare categories, and charge fares entirely based on income. We have lots of good ways to verify income for people under 200% of the poverty line; we can use existing infrastructure to charge still lower fares for people below 100% and 50% of poverty. Above that, the County has a large role in health care, and the ACA offers premium subsidies to people up to 400% of poverty. I suggest that the Health Department, perhaps working with WA Healthplanfinder, use that information to verify incomes in the 200-400% poverty range and apply an appropriate income-based fare category. This would be simpler and fairer for everyone.

Thanks.

How SHA Abuses its Own Tenants

It’s now been 3 months since I ordered ink for my new printer, but I still don’t have it–thanks to the still-broken callbox at my building that the Seattle Housing Authority won’t fix or give any information/answers about. They can’t tell us when it will be fixed, how we’re supposed to receive packages (while denying that they’ve blocked our ability to get them), and rather than generally informing residents, I was told last week that we’re supposed to go to their office in Queen Anne in person to find out what’s going on at our building–the lack of phone calls, emails, or paper/mailed newsletters or ad hoc notifications from them is as they think it should be. SHA just sees no reason to communicate with its residents. They take no responsibility for misinforming us (I spent a month chasing down the wrong contact person), or lost time or money (this ink costs 3-4 times more to buy offline). They said they’d call me back but haven’t. They routinely ignore us, requiring multiple attempts to ask questions, of multiple people, via multiple methods. They’re a big bureaucracy with a single huge switchboard phone system, so it’s hard to find out who you’re supposed to talk to–and emails and voicemails are rarely answered. I’ve contacted Rep. Adam Smith‘s office and Seattle City Council members seeking help contacting SHA, but I’m not hearing from them anymore either. Even SHA’s Board of Directors has no contact information on the website. No emails or phone numbers for the individual members (2 of whom are specifically designated to represent tenants), no general Board email address, no staff contact who can forward requests on to the Board. Just the same general mailing address. The Board meets monthly, but I was dog sitting in Burien and had to miss the August meeting.
 
The merchant says they’ve tried to ship my ink twice and thus can’t do anything else, like a refund or 3rd attempt. So I disputed the charge with my credit card and hope that will encourage them to compromise–I could pay the shipping for a 3rd delivery attempt if they’d agree to give the UPS driver my cell number (they refused before) or leave it at their Othello store as I’ve set up my preferences on MyUPS.
 
Meanwhile, I need to print things like my passport application and don’t want to use the library too much at 15 cents/page (this held up renewal of my disability transit pass). So I’m debating ordering another cartridge from someone else. Once I verify that the new printer prints, I can finally get rid of the old one.
 
We desperately need the Tenants Union to help us organize; it’s painfully clear that SHA only considers us to be nuisances to shoo away. As individuals, we have no power or recourse. In WA, you’re not allowed to withhold rent; they can (and will) evict you. The time, money, frustration, hassle, and emotional turmoil gratuitously forced on poor people is unconscionable and gradually wears you down. It’s time this country fought classism.