I went to bed last night with a feeling of gloom. Not quite doom, but definitely gloom. Why? I had just opened yesterday’s mail and found a letter from my mother’s Medicaid case worker. The opening line—bold, in all caps, centered at the top of the letter—said:
NOTICE OF ADVERSE ACTION
And two lines down were these words:
Your eligibility will terminate 11/30/2013.
Reason? Your income exceeds the income limit.
The letter went on to say that I must request a hearing by 11/25/2013, blah blah blah. That’s Monday. And I got the letter yesterday. At the bottom of the letter, centered in bold, all caps, it said:
MESSAGE FROM YOUR CASE WORKER
Now, I’ve had a pretty good relationship with my mother’s Medicaid case worker for the past few years. It was a lengthy and labor-intensive process (with tons of paper work) to get Mom approved for Medicaid, but when it happened a few years ago, I breathed a huge sigh of relief. Mom’s social security and Dad’s small state retirement income together weren’t enough to pay for her nursing home care. Thankfully Medicaid would make up the difference, which they’ve been doing for several years now.
Every summer I receive a letter requesting more paperwork to determine her eligibility for another year, and every summer, she is approved. So, this letter really scared me.
I woke up with the letter on my mind. Before coming downstairs for coffee, I stopped by our icon corner to pray. I looked at the reading for today in our Orthodox calendar, and here’s the quote I read aloud with my prayers:
Christ is our Friend, our Brother. He is whatever is beautiful and good. He is everything. In Christ there is no gloom, melancholy or introversion, whereas man suffers from various temptations and situations that make him suffer. Christ is joy, life, light, the true light, which makes man glad, makes him fly, makes him see all things, see all people, suffer for all people, and want all people to be with him, close to him.—Elder Porphyrios the Kapsokalyvite (For more of Elder Porphyrios’ words, read Wounded by Love.)
I asked God to help me as I prepared to phone the case worker. First I gathered up my files from the past two years. I noticed the very small increase in Mom’s social security income, and couldn’t imagine that it would cause her to be ineligible. I pictured us paying the difference for the remainder of her life and wondered how that would affect our plans as we approach retirement. I wondered if I would need a lawyer for the hearing process if it came to that. And then I picked up the phone and called Medicaid.
In the past it has often taken hours or days for the case worker to return my phone calls, so I was anxious about the deadline for requesting a hearing if it came to that. But the case worker immediately picked up the phone, and I told her why I was calling. Then I held my breath again as she answered:
Oh, that was an error. You will be receiving another letter soon.
An error? So Mom is still eligible?
Yes, ma’am. You can ignore that letter.
And that was that. No explanation or apology, really. But that’s okay, so long as Mom is still eligible.
Yesterday at physical therapy, I was telling my therapist that I had been depressed earlier in the week… struggling with the pain this far into my recovery. My surgeon, whom I saw last Friday, had mentioned that some people have problems with the internal hardware, and he could go back in and remove some of it from my ankle if I’d like. But he couldn’t say for sure that was what was causing the pain. Both my massage therapist and my physical therapist encouraged me to give it a few more months, and helped me with their healing hands and positive words this week.
So, today, I’m going to try to focus on the Elder Porphryios’ words—that in Christ there is no gloom, but all light and joy. That Christ makes man fly. Yes, I want to be all light and joy. I want to fly.