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.

These are the people who will handle my healthcare.

Our healthcare has been in dire need of reform for years. Ask anyone who’s paid out-of-pocket. Ask any physician who charges “X” and gets a statement back from the insurance company saying they’ll only pay “Y” for that procedure, and no, the patient isn’t responsible for the difference. (Oh, and by the way, if you don’t have insurance, you can’t negotiate the price like that)

When the healthcare legislation was pushed through, many people were quite happy. However, I don’t think it’s the answer. Having our government handle our healthcare? Seriously? Have you ever tried to get anything pushed through the mounds of red tape at any government office?

I have a pre-existing health condition that prohibits me from getting health insurance coverage. As a result, I waited my 6-month period and applied for the Federal PCIP Healthcare Program. I sent in my denial letter and all my paperwork on February 1. After three weeks, I should have received some communication from their office. I started calling on February 25.

I was told my paperwork was still in process and if I was approved my coverage would be effective as of March 1. Any medical expenses I incurred after March 1 I could submit for reimbursement after I received my card and all their paperwork.

March 1 came and went.

On March 5 I called and was told my account had not been updated since February 11. I was forwarded to a manager.

After further investigation, it seems someone flagged me as not being a U.S. Citizen. Although my application clearly stated I was born in the U.S., they had my social security number and had complete access to my identity, someone somewhere didn’t know how to read.

Clarifying this on the phone with me wasn’t good enough. They had one specific person I had to talk to. This person had to call me back. She wasn’t in the office. I was told she had two business days in which to call. I got a call from her the next day, while I was in class. Luckily, I was expecting her call and left my phone on vibrate.

When the lady spoke with me, she said it wasn’t a question of citizenship and apologized for the misunderstanding. They were just missing documentation. (Documentation I sent on February 1). Three things went through my mind at this time:

  • So I get all wound up about this “question of citizenship” for nothing
  • It would appear their right hand doesn’t know what their left hand is doing
  • They’re already losing paperwork and they haven’t even finished processing my app yet. Why didn’t I get some communication back in February saying this was missing???

I got her fax number so I could send her the information, and expressed my disappointment and dissatisfaction. I asked her how long this would delay my application. She said she would expedite the application. I doubt it.

If this is any example of what to expect, I may consider cancelling my coverage and just socking away the money each month. Somehow I think I’d be better off going without.

Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way

The tragedy in Connecticut was devastating, and my heart goes out to those families. That being said, I’ve thought long and hard about what I wanted to say regarding the topic of gun control. This is a sensitive issue right now, and a very important one.

Throughout the history of mankind, we’ve found a way to hunt, to harm, to wage war. Cane slew Abel because, in his eyes, his brother was “favored” (no motive is ever really given, it’s always assumed the motive was jealousy). But Cane did not have a firearm when he committed this act.

We are in the midst of another debate of gun control because of a terrible event that occurred – something that should never have happened. We cannot ever replace those lives. However, we cannot change the fact that the perpetrator would have found a method to harm these people if he did not have access to guns.

My friend, Stephen Pope, has a far more eloquent post on this topic. After reading it I got his permission to incorporate it into my own post over here:

http://stephenbpope.blogspot.com/2012/12/reacting-and-preventing.html

Whenever we encounter a tragedy, it’s human nature to have that “knee jerk reaction” and want to go to the opposite end of the spectrum, whatever the issue may be. But knee jerk reactions are never long-term solutions. If someone had listened to Cane, or maybe stopped and asked him how he was doing, maybe he would have had a chance to vent about his asshole brother Abel and that whole story would have had a different ending.

Politics, Voting, and my Jaded Outlook

Early Voting begins in our country this week. We have one more Presidential debate tonight; this one on foreign policy. Many people have already made their decision. I think the only people who watch the debates are the small segment of undecided voters (and at this point there aren’t that many, IMO), and those who just want to watch “the other guy” make some sort of political gaffe. Then there are people like me, who watch both candidates and heckle when they dodge the question. I like to throw popcorn. I snagged that tradition from a good friend of mine. It’s far safer for everyone and everything around than throwing other objects, and the dogs enjoy a good snack. 😉

Today, I write about my observation of the average person on the street. This is a longstanding problem in our political system, you see… for years, voters have complained the final choice comes down to two candidates they don’t like, and rather than voting for someone they feel like they’re voting against the other guy. It’s as if they’re saying

Please note, this is not a slam against one particular candidate. This logo was just particularly easy to manipulate and make the point.
But is that really a reason to vote for anyone? Seriously? Most people have stopped paying attention to third party candidates. If you asked, they probably couldn’t even tell you who was on the ballot, or what that person stood for. We have a society of sheeple, just because they believe their vote won’t count if they don’t vote for one of the two major parties.

I hear so many jaded people say, “Oh, I’d vote for ‘so-and-so’, but I’d just be throwing my vote away. I’m going to vote for ‘X’, even though I don’t agree with him, just because I can’t stand ‘Y’.” You know, if enough of these people actually true to themselves, their vote might actually make a difference.

Whichever candidate you’re voting for, just make sure you’re voting for that person for the right reasons. The media doesn’t tell us everything. Go to the websites and read about the candidates and their positions on the issues that are important to you.

That’s my rant for the day. Time for coffee. Good morning, everyone!