Are we doing this again?

I remember, as a young child, feeling very put out because I couldn’t watch my after school specials in the afternoon. I was quite upset. You see, my Gran was keeping up with something far more important. President Nixon was drowning in the Watergate scandal and the Senate Intelligence Committee was thoroughly investigating the issue.

Gran watched daily to see testimony and to find out what else the President was lying about. The rest is history, as we all know.

At the time, I didn’t understand. I found it boring. I much preferred watching sci-fi movies about alien invasions and Godzilla.

This morning, I’m watching Former Director of the FBI, James Comey, give the long awaited testimony regarding the Russia investigation, his conversations with President Trump, and how things were handled.

I don’t know if this will answer questions or just create more. But I do know there will be more to come. That’s how these things work.

And now, I do understand why my Gran watched so closely back in 1973. It’s just the need to know the truth, regardless of what side of the political fence you’re on. If you don’t support the current Administration, you watch because, hopefully, this is the beginning of the end. If you do support them, you watch because you know your candidate is right and there’s nothing to fear from the investigation.

Regardless, we’re all watching.

We Marched!

Last week, on January 21st, over 50,000 women, men, and children, gathered in Austin, TX to march for their human rights. It was a beautiful day in Austin. It was HOT, but that didn’t stop any of us.

Just to get a perspective of the crowd, here’s a few people at the Texas Capitol building:

at-the-capitol

This was my first march, and it won’t be my last. I found it … inspirational. Joyous. I reveled in the togetherness of the crowd. And I finally felt like I’d taken a step towards doing something and making a stand!

When I got back home last week, I wrote a poem, as I’m prone to do…

Cities, worldwide, took one day to come together
One day to make a stand

One day…
To march

In a world of division
Over 50,000 people gathered that Saturday
In Austin, TX
Women, men, children…
Ages, races, religions, genders
People from all walks of life
All came together with one purpose…
To march

We all had so many causes to march for:
Women’s Rights
Healthcare
Planned Parenthood
Roe v. Wade

Just to name a few…

Someone asked me why I wanted to march…
Why on earth wouldn’t I?

This is why I march.
I march for you, little sister!
I don’t know if it’s your choice, but you HAVE that choice
and no Politician
or Preacher in his pocket
should ever take it away from you.

I march for you…
Too traumatized to speak of what happened.
You shouldn’t be punished
by being forced to carry
one more reminder
for nine months.
Sister … it wasn’t your fault.

I march for the parents
Who found out in those last few weeks
something went terribly wrong!
They should not be forced into someone else’s decision.
They, too, have a choice!

We march for all of us!
We march for our rights!

And those who marched with me cried
TELL ME WHAT DEMOCRACY LOOKS LIKE!

WE are what democracy looks like.

(Original work, written 1/23/2017. Do not distribute without permission or credit to the author [me])

womens-march-austin

 

Today is the big day

Today is the big day. I leave this morning for Austin, TX, to take part in my first protest march tomorrow.

Yes, I’m 50 years old and I’ve never done this before. I’ve bitched, I’ve ranted, I’ve donated, But I’ve never stood up with anyone for a cause I believed in so passionately. Tomorrow, with my best friend and so many other women, I will do just that.

Today, many Americans will see a dangerous narcissist sworn into office. A bully. A bad example for our children. Someone who has disparaged and insulted minorities, the disabled, and women.

Someone who has already begun to strip away our rights, bit by bit.

Someone who wants to take us back to those “good old days”, when women stayed home and everyone “knew their place” in society.

We stand tomorrow. We’re having a peaceful protest tomorrow in Austin. We march for our rights… for your rights.

WE MARCH!!

womens-march-atx

 

The Ongoing Saga for Healthcare Coverage

I have been trying to compose a blog post on this topic since November 19. This is currently my 5th draft. I’m hoping to write a composed entry, rather than an unbiased ranting of a raving lunatic, because really, I’m so frustrated I just want to throw things.

I have epilepsy, which left me no choice for insurance but the Federal PCIP program when my COBRA ran out. When I had to wait 6 months without insurance to apply for PCIP, we felt that financial pain on our budget just on my meds alone, which cost an average of $1000/month. I have not calculated or included the cost of my husband’s medications at this point.

Now, we’re facing the same situation again. PCIP is going away at the end of the year. If I’m unable to find affordable coverage by December 15, I will not have insurance at all on January 1, 2014, and I’ll get to pay a penalty for that privilege. Continue reading “The Ongoing Saga for Healthcare Coverage”

My Healthcare.gov Experience This Morning

A little history…

After multiple attempts last week, I successfully created an account on healthcare.gov. I had to wake up at 5:15am in order to do so. The process still took me two hours, and at the end of those two hours, when I hit “Submit”, I waited and the screen flickered, then I was left on the same page as though nothing happened. I was never taken to a page confirming the process was complete.

I tried about 6 or 7 times. I even tried logging out and logging back in. Finally, I tried their chat support. They have this handy link at the lower right corner of the page that says, “Live Chat”. I figured their phone lines would be swamped, so I went that route. There was no disclaimer on what their chat did or did not support. Usually, when there is a chat link on such a page, it is level one support and they can help you with at least part of your problem. They can, at least, access your account.

Nope.

The agent informed me they could not access any account information or help with the application process on chat support. Although I just needed to know if my application completed, the agent could not even answer that question. I had to call phone support.

The agent on phone support informed was friendly enough and asked me if I had an account number. I said, “No. I have an application number. I’m in the very last phase of the application process and that’s where things timed out. I clicked submit but I’m not sure if it worked. I just need to know.” I was told that without an account number she could not pull up my in-process application. She could not pull it up with the application number I had, nor could she pull it up with any of my personal information. My only option was to go through the application all over again on the phone (the same application I just spent two-hours completing and had no desire to go through again). If she took me through it by phone it would take 2-6 weeks for a confirmation; whereas, if I completed it online I got an immediate response.

WTF? Why the difference? Why couldn’t she get the same immediate confirmation? But that’s another rant for another day.

I didn’t want to dig up all the information again, so I logged out and logged in again so I could read through the in-process application and give her the responses she needed. Lo and behold! I received a new message! I had some file I had to download, indicating I’d been approved! I read the message to her and she confirmed this meant I’d receive an email shortly with my coverage options.

I never received it.

Fast forward to today…

I tried logging back in this morning. My username and password did not work. I thought, “Perhaps I forgot one or the other.” So I clicked on the link that said “Forgot Username”. I populated my name and my email address associated with my account. I did not receive an email. I checked my spam folder to be sure.

I contacted their chat support again. Surely, they can at least assist in resetting usernames and passwords.

Nope.

Now, before I go on, here’s a screenshot of the chat window you see while you’re chatting with the agent. Note the misleading phrase at the top, “Chat with someone who can help”.

Chat Helpless Desk

Alas, I had no method of emailing the transcript from the chat window. I had to copy/paste. I wish I had something more … credible. Regardless, here is the text from the chat, because they have no method of sending the transcript:

[06:49:51 am]: Thanks for contacting Health Insurance Marketplace Live Chat. Please wait while we connect you to someone who can help.
[06:49:55 am]:  Please be patient while we’re helping other people.
[06:50:29 am]:  Please be patient while we’re helping other people.
[06:50:59 am]:  Please be patient while we’re helping other people.
[06:51:05 am]: Welcome! You’re now connected to Health Insurance Marketplace Live Chat.

Thanks for contacting us. My name is Ada. To protect your privacy, please don’t provide any personal information, like Social Security Number, or any other sensitive medical or personal information.

[06:51:44 am]: (me)
Hello Ada. I’m trying to log back into the website but it isn’t accepting my username or password (I’m not sure which is incorrect).

[06:52:23 am]: (me)
I may have forgotten my username. I’ve been waiting for the email but nothing is coming through. I *know* I’m using the correct email address. Is this something you can help me with?

[06:54:25 am]: Ada
  have you attempted to reset your username and password? If you need to reset your username or password, please use the “Forgot your username?” or “Forgot your password” links on the account login page.

[06:54:45 am]: (me)
Did you not read the description of my problem?

[06:55:03 am]: (me)
I tried that. I haven’t received the subsequent email from healthcare.gov

[06:55:31 am]: (me)
and I KNOW I’m using the correct email address for you to send me the information.

[06:56:09 am]: Ada
Thanks for your interest in the Health Insurance Marketplace. We have a lot of visitors trying to use our website right now. This is causing some glitches for some people trying to create accounts or log in. Keep trying, and thanks for your patience. You might have better success during off-peak hours, like later at night or early in the morning. We’ll continue working to improve the site so you can get covered!

[06:56:42 am]: (me)
Ok. So basically the chat agents are only good for sending scripted responses and not for actual assistance. Correct?

[06:57:01 am]: (me)
I’ll stop bothering you.

[06:57:16 am]: (me)
You should take this link off of your website.

[06:58:35 am]: (me)
the chat window even says “Chat with someone who can help”

[06:58:46 am]: (me)
You aren’t helping me.

[07:00:28 am]: Ada
I apologize. We are available to help you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can reach us toll free at 1-800-318-2596.

[07:00:50 am]: (me)
Yeah… because your chat support is useless.

[07:01:09 am]: (me)
I want this forwarded to a manager for a callback.

[07:01:21 am]: (me)
This is not the first time I’ve contacted chat support for assistance.

[07:02:58 am]: Ada
I apologize for the inconvenience.Is there anything else I can assist you with?

[07:03:22 am]: (me)
I want a manager to call me back regarding the problems I’ve had with chat support, overall.

[07:03:49 am]: (me)
Every time I’ve tried to get help through chat all I get are “scripted responses” followed by “call tech support”.

[07:04:08 am]: (me)
If I wanted to call and wait on hold, I would have done that in the first place.

[07:04:26 am]: (me)
If you have chat support, use it. If you don’t have chat support, don’t put the link up on your website.

[07:05:16 am]: Ada
 You can reach us toll free at 1-800-318-2596.

[07:06:27 am]: (me)
… wow. When I was over an outsourcing call center, making sure their chat support was functioning properly and our customers were satisfied, THIS kind of thing would never happen.

[07:06:47 am]: (me)
Live chat… more like warm bodies in a chair.

[07:07:25 am]: (me)
Can you send me a transcript of this chat so I can forward it to a manager I reach by phone?

[07:09:35 am]: Ada
I apologize, but we do not have that ability.

[07:09:50 am]: (me)
Of course.

[07:10:50 am]: Ada
I apologize, but if there is nothing else I can help you with I am going to have to disconnect from this chat.

[07:11:05 am]: (me)
Unless you can give me a survey link, I think we’re done here.

[07:11:18 am]: Ada
Thank you for contacting Health Insurance Marketplace Live Chat.  We are here to help you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

And she ends the chat with the sentence, “We are here to help you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.” Just how are they there to help?? As far as I can tell, they’re serving as a bottleneck for phone support. Can you imagine how many calls they’d be getting if the chat link wasn’t on the page?

*(on another note – as I went through the post to remove my name, because I never use real names on my blog, I just noticed.. Ada never used my name on the chat. Just where are they getting these agents? Everyone knows in any form of customer service, you always use the customer’s name; especially if the customer is irate.)

Enough!

Day three (3) of our government shutdown, with no compromise in sight, no signs of either party giving in. Social media outlets are on fire with posts and comments. People expressing their opinions, their frustration and their anger. Anger at the politicians and anger at the general public on the other side of the political fence.

We live in a divided nation and we’ve been bickering back and forth for three days straight now. People — we’re angry with each other when we need to be angry with the politicians who aren’t even feeling the effects of this shutdown.

Here. Look at the cute kitty for a moment and calm down.

MissyIsTiredOfPolitics

I’m not saying we should ignore current events. We need to be aware and fully informed on both sides of the story. I’m not saying we should close our eyes like children and pretend nothing is going on, thinking maybe this will all just go away. It won’t. These issues affect you and me, regardless of what side of the political fence we stand.

I am saying we need to take a moment and breathe. Many people have been wound up over the past three days and tensions are high.

Now go hug someone.

A Lesson Washington Would Do Well To Remember

My political rants have always been bi-partisan. Today is no different.

Our government is currently shut down because members of our House and our Senate are at a battle of wills. Some view the government shutdown as “no big deal”, and it will be over soon. Others view it as a huge matter, even if it is for just one day, because those who are impacted are losing their salaries during this time. Whether or not you agree on this matter is not the focus of my rant. The Affordable Care Act is not the focus of my rant, either. Please withhold comments that either support abolishing this act or support keeping it. We’ve seen enough division amongst ourselves.

My rant is about the overall attitude Washington has on the important issues that affect you and me. Rather than doing something that will resolve the issue – rather than communicating with each other and “reaching across the isle” (as they promise to do every election season), they stubbornly stick to one point of view or another, wasting our tax dollars while they pass legislation back and forth between the House and the Senate as though it were a tennis ball.

“I’m not going to change my mind, I’m taking your idea out. Here. The ball is in your court.”

“No, we’re putting this version back in.” And they serve the ball back, while we watch the match.

The media went on about Ted Cruz reading “Green Eggs and Ham” recently, and made something big about the story he read to his child.  Dr. Seuss taught us some valuable lessons when we were children. These are lessons we still remember and apply as adults. I think they’ve forgotten them up in Washington.

Today, I give a story from Dr. Seuss for all of our politicians. It’s one of my favorites from early childhood. May they take this to heart and remember their headstrong decisions affect We, the People.