Friday, November 20, 2009

Letter to my senators

To Hon. Senator Saxby Chambliss:

I am Dannis Cole, and I am disabled. I personally know many low-income people, and I am Atlanta Low-Income Issues Examiner [used to live in Atlanta] for Examiner.com, so I write about these issues.

Sir, I would like you to vote for the Health Care Plan. It is imperfect, yes, but people like me are dying.

Poor health impacts everything from school attendance [where I was discriminated against by the public schools] to the workplace [if not for OSHA's no leave without pay policy, I could've kept working for at least 5 years longer].

Tax credits don't help me, if they're not off my county house taxes. I am on Food Stamps and draw Social Security Disability that I fear losing. Many need it and cannot get it because Social Security is so afraid that we're all crooks. We are not. Most poor people I know are honest. We live in the most economically-depressed region of GA, so I know. My daughter attends college, and my sister pays half of it so she can go; she took her GED and entered a year early. Now in her sophomore year, she is 19 - as of today. When I became disabled, I homeschooled her from 4th grade on. Most homeschoolers make a lot of money compared to what we had. Maggie grew up taking buses with me to the grocery store, etc, because we couldn't afford a car.

If you want to know more about the low-income life, please look at my blog: http://dannistories.posterous.com

I will be happy to share any information with you that you wish. I am a dual-eligible. I am college-educated. I was a single parent - twice. I was put in a nursing home against my will for six months, then Medicaid refused to pay. After two years, they reversed the decision because they were wrong about my eligibility. I am the child of parents who both served in the Navy in WWII. I applied to the Air Force, but I wasn't healthy enough to serve. I wanted to be an astronaut. I self-publish science fiction novels, but haven't seen a dime yet [and probably won't - I do this so my brain stays active]. We have Internet because my daughter needs it for college. It helps me keep my mind off my painful body. I held 25 jobs in my adult life - all those job changes were because I couldn't physically handle the lifting required. Once I was fired because I had to transfer twice on MARTA. The connections were very close. Many times, I ran after my connecting bus and couldn't run fast enough. It was 2 hours until the next one. I couldn't afford a taxi, not and pay my bills.

I can understand that you're very busy, and I know most politicians are businessmen. But, I wish all of you would listen to us. I'm a dual-eligible. I'm not out to steal money from the US - I love my country, and would never try to get money I wasn't legally entitled to have. I go to my DFACS caseworker, when I am able [most of the time I have to send my daughter for me]. Over the years, the faces are different, but their faces always show the stress of their very difficult job. I see the notebooks full of updated rules. They tell me many of the rules conflict each other, so that the poor caseworker [or, more accurately, her boss] has to try to figure out what now applies. There are always too many cases [like me] and not enough appointments. It is very difficult for me to keep up with all the documents required to supply my caseworker. Or, to make the payments to my Personal Care Aide's provider [most people think I get Meals On Wheels and PCA for free]. My caseworker is in the top 10 group for suicide.

Medicaid is a mess. I wish someone like you, Mr. Chambliss, would introduce a bill to make the government pay its bills, and reform Medicaid, Medicare, HUD, and IRS. I think the whole structure of our government needs simplification. Tax breaks do nothing for those like me on a fixed income. Medicaid won't let me have a savings account, like a normal person. I have to pay school tax even though both my daughters are grown. Most programs like the one that provides me a PCA are built for the elderly [I am now 51, but became disabled at age 40]. When I won my disability case, I got 4 years' back payments. But, I had to spend that in 9 months, and I could not put any of it towards my daughter's college. None. I could have gotten a burial policy for $5000. I didn't, because I didn't know where I wanted to be buried, except at Mt Hebron Baptist Church in Carnegie, 7 mi from me. But, my sister [my only living relative besides a widowed aunt in MO amd scattered cousins] can't afford to transport me from Atlanta, where we lived at the time. Maggie wants to go to GSU in Atlanta when she finishes at Andrew, in Nursing. She wants me to sell my house and come with her. I have no idea how I will accomplish this, but she says she is too worried about me and she wants me to come with her [she's a good girl and doesn't want to live in the dorms because folks her age want to party and she doesn't.] I bought my house under Georgia Dream Program. I tried to email them, but the contact form had a bug and I couldn't. I am planning now for next year and don't know if I can sell this house and buy another; in Atlanta it won't be as nice as this one [I paid 47,000 and it appraised at 63,000, but I have to sell it to someone low-income]. My house is 1100 sq ft and built in 1991. It was repossessed, and sometimes, when I'm thanking God for our house and other blessings, I'm thanking Him that that poor family was able to buy another house [my realtor told me]. They were low-income, too.

Now you know a little about this stranger who's writing you. I went without health care for two long years because I hadn't won my disability case. I got put in the nursing home because my poor 9 year old was doing all the housework - because I couldn't - because there were no services to help me keep my apartment. A family at Church took my daughter so she didn't go into foster care. My sister couldn't help me because she was in GA and I was in UT. ...If I had that situation, there are many more. Many more.

I have more stories for you. Please write me, and have some questions for me. I wish I could talk to Congress, and tell you how it is for us. We're being labeled as crooks, swindlers, drug addicts, and liars. It's time y'all knew that we aren't, that we are people just like you. We have integrity. We are honest. Those who are not do a lot of damage, but there are few of them.

Thank you, Sir, for your time.

Sincerely,
Dannis Cole
Disabled/Author
http://dannistories.com

[note: I also wrote Sen. Johnny Isakson about this important issue]

Picture: Dannis Cole in nursing home, where she was forced to live for six months

Posted via email from Dannis' Posterous From DanniStories

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