A PMP, finally

Working a lot with computers, acronyms have become second nature – lately it’s been SIP and DID and PBX and a slew of other ones.  Somehow though, I’m surprised when I realize that they don’t just exist in the realm of computer technology.  I’m more surprised when, in these other contexts, they no longer seem like par for the course, this arcane language that one can take pride in navigating, but instead a frustrating impediment, a needlessly oblique interface to tasks that should be simple and painless for everyone.

Getting healthcare for the first time on my own and not through school or family health insurance and getting it through the state subsidized Healthy Indiana Plan has introduced me to an entirely new set of acronyms.  A primary medical provider, that is a family doctor, is a PMP, and your recipient ID number is a RID.  And while cold, technical terms for the participants in a network are fine when we’re talking about computers, when I think about it, it’s a little uncomfortable being reduced to a “recipient”.  Even without the acronyms, the language to describe getting healthcare quickly becomes unintuitive.

After having to change my doctor, or should I say PMP, twice because both my assigned doctor and one I picked from a list of doctors with an “active” status in the MDWise system were not accepting new patients, I ended up just calling most of the doctors on the list provided by MDWise and asking if they were accepting new patients.  It was hard to figure out what to say.  I tried using the PMP term, since that is what was used on the MDWise website, but it just seemed to confuse the seceretaries.  More confusing was when I asked if any doctors in their office were accepting patients.  Most of the doctors that are available through the HIP, with MDWise, in Bloomington are part of a large organization called Internal Medical Associates (IMA) that seems to have around 5 locations and, at least according to their on-hold message, around 60 physicians.

So, it was difficult to figure out which doctors were connected with which location and which phone number corresponded to the office of which doctor.  When I was told that a particular set of doctors wasn’t accepting patients, I was often transferred to another location without really knowing where my call was going.  One location asked me if I had to see a doctor, or if a nurse practitioner (a nurse with at least a master’s degree in nursing) would be okay.  I said either and was able to schedule an appointment with a nurse practitioner  only to then find out from MDWise that only appointments with doctors are covered.

Eventually, I found a doctor who was accepting patients, though not until September, and was able to schedule a physical.  I called MDWise and switched to this doctor and was told I would receive a new insurance card in the mail.  When I told the person on the phone that I had never received my original card, she said that there had been some delays, but that I should expect my new card shortly.  This whole process made me feel happy that I have a job that is flexible enough that I can take the time to make a bunch of phone calls during business hours.  It also made me hope that I will never have to fully master all the acronyms associated with getting healthcare in the U.S., particularly state provided healthcare.  It seems that those who have finally figured out how to navigate the system, to whom the acronyms are second nature, have done so only after a dire struggle to get themselves or their loved ones the care that they need.  I hope that I can stay healthy enough that the frustrations of figuring out how to get health care are an occasional occurence and not a constant reality.  Still, it is important to remember that people already facing the challenges of a state of health that requires more consistent care shouldn’t have to have the additional burden of wading through a bog of acronyms, redirected phone calls, and confusing or unknown information.  I can better understand why some people work jobs just for healthcare.  The idea of being able to get the care you want, when you need it, and to be treated with respect and dignity as you work through the process of that care now seems so amazing, almost luxurious.

I don’t think quality health care should be a luxury.  Perhaps I am naive enough about the logistics of providing health care to expect that everyone could have personal attention, respect, and advocacy for working out problems or questions, but I feel strongly that this should at least be the goal, the benchmark by which the heated issue of healthcare is measured.  I don’t think this is the case right now.  A friend recently made the observation, correctly I think, that the Healthy Indiana Plan is, in fact, a rather conservative proposal.  It seems designed, with it’s coverage of preventative medicine, to reduce the costs of the state from uninsured people using the emergency room and not being able to pay for it.  While it’s certainly true that using the emergency room as one’s primary medical care is not in the best interest of the patient either, my experience with the Healthy Indiana Plan suggests an ultimate goal of cost reduction and not of a positive and healthy experience for the patient.

I’ll continue to write here about my experience with healthcare, with the hope that others in Indiana can share their experiences and together we can identify problems and propose solutions to the state’s healthcare approach. Perhaps we can help share ways that we’ve been able to better navigate the system.  Finally, I want to express the way in which the idea of healthcare has become real for me and not just a topic of presidential debates or news stories.

finding a doctor continued

After being told that the physician to which I was assigned by MDWise under the HIP was no longer accepting patients, and that the person I switched to after that (being told by MDWise that their system listed them as ‘active’ or accepting patients) was also no longer accepting patients, I called another practice.  I asked if they were accepting patients and they asked if I needed to see a doctor or if a nurse practitioner would be okay.  I told them that it didn’t really matter because I just wanted to establish care with someone, get a general physical, and have the sebacious cyst on the back of my neck re-examined.  They took my information, and were able to look some of it up based on my MDWise RID, and then scheduled me an appointment for next week with a nurse practitioner.

I called MDWise to tell them this and they said that care with a nurse practitioner wouldn’t be covered, it had to be a doctor. I called the office back, canceled my appointment and tried to see if any of the doctors at that office were accepting new patients.  They weren’t accepting new patients, so I continued down the list of results from the MDWise web site.  Of the people on the list that I have called so far, 10 out of 20 are not accepting new patients.  Right now I am stalled at waiting to get a call back from one of the doctor’s offices who I was told was accepting patients.

One of the biggest confusions that I have encountered is the fact that many of the doctors on the list that MDWise provided are part of very large practices (the on-hold message at one of the practices said they had over 60 physicians) at the same location with diffrent offices and phone numbers.    It’s very hard to figure out who I’ve talked to already, especially since I’ve been transferred to different offices via the phone system.  The thing that has cleared things up the best for me has been to ask the seceretary “Which doctors do you schedule appointments for? Are any of them accepting new patients?”

I have been pretty frustrated by this process so far.  Last month, I went to a forum about the FSSA privatization and how it has affected people receiving food stamp beverages.  WFHB covered the event and its worth a listen just to see how messed up the program is and how many people have been treated unfairly or just had to jump through a bunch of needless hoops just to get their benefits.  At least there was a general consensus, even by the FSSA rep there that things needed to change.  A lot of people who did get their situations resolved did so with support from their state representatives or senators.  I would really recommend that if you’re having problems with the HIP, that you contact your Indiana rep. as many actually have social workers working for their office who might be able to help you navigate the crazy HIP system.  You can look up your representatives at the state’s Who’s Your Legistator page.

Healthy Indiana Plan: Scheduling a Physical

I have gotten my information packet from MDWise but I had to call to get my RID number and assigned physician. Today I got my second POWER account bill from MDWise, but it said I didn’t owe anything. I tried to call my physician to schedule a physical and they said that the doctor was no longer accepting additional patients and that I would need to call MDWise to work that out. So far, my experience with the HIP has been one of a lack of communication, clarity, and knowledge by the people I’ve talked to both on the FSSA side and the MDWise side.

Update:  I called MDWise and was able to speak with someone pretty promptly.  She told me that I would have to pick another doctor and pointed me to the list (actually a search) on the MDWise web site.   She had some trouble pronouncing the doctors names which wasn’t a problem because I had the web page in front of me, but would have been really confusing if I was just on the phone.   She had to list the names because not all of the doctors were accepting patients.  She said that I should pick a doctor and call MDWise back.  She said it would take 3-5 business days to make the switch and notify the doctor’s office and that I couldn’t call the doctor I chose to make an appointment until after that.

Jail Book Group

I’m trying to be better about posting what I’ve been doing lately.  Last night, the book group I’m facilitating through Pages and New Leaf New Life in the “therapeutic” block of the local jail met for the second time and we picked the book that we’re going to read, A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson.  We did a rough vote and there wasn’t an overwhelming consensus so I’m going to bring in a few copies of the other books that I brought up as options including Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris, Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood, and The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman.

Doing the group is challenging.  Some people are extroverted and seem to love to talk about themselves and their experiences.  Some are the exact opposite.  I feel like we’re also fighting the difficult dynamic of being a “group” amidst a lot of other mandatory groups that the men have to go through all day.  I think, at the end of the day, some just aren’t feeling another group.  People in the block are respectful and quiet, but the whole jail is noisy.  There are lots of interruptions like meds and the church group that comes in to provide worship services without notices.  I’m still getting my balance as a facilitator and trying to make it more clear why I’m there and what I’m doing and try to get past the reasonable distrust that some of the guys have for people like me.

In spite of all the challenges, we had a short discussion about a piece of writing titled The Best Time in My Life and many shared a memory or description of places and eras that they had seen pass.  For some it was rock quarries in southern Indiana, for another being towed around on an old car hood in his tiny hometown, and for another it was the closure of a vital youth center in his Chicago neighborhood.

Healthy Indiana Plan Update

I still haven’t gotten my introductory literature from my health provider (MDWise) or my second month’s bill for my POWER account.  I called MDWise and they said they were behind on sending them but that I should receive them “soon”.  The rep also said that I shouldn’t worry about being late on my POWER account payment because of the delay in sending out the bills.  Finally, I was able to get the name and # of my assigned doctor and my Recipient ID (RID) number so I can go and receive healthcare.  So, if anyone else has the HIP and hasn’t heard from them, call MDWise or Anthem and see if you can get your info.  You can call Anthem at 1-800-553-2019 and MDWise at  1-877-822-7196 or 317-822-7196 if you are in the Indianapolis area.

my notes from Today’s FSSA forum

I went to a forum today about FSSA’s recent privitization of the administration of Indiana’s food stamp, medicade, and other benefits. Here are my notes from the forum. I tried to be as accurate as I could, but in many cases, couldn’t keep up with names, positions, or people’s entire stories/statements.

Before I offer my notes, I wanted to give a little of my own analysis. The panel of experts represented various township and state government officials who were presented as experts. While one panelist aknowledged that they were only experts because they had heard so many criticisms and seen so many problems faced by their constituents, I still thought that the lack of people directly affected by the FSSA privitization on the panel was very telling of a system that continues to fail to put people using the services at the center of the disucssion and in control of driving the program’s future. There were a few people who had personally struggled trying to maintain FSSA benefits through the privitization rollout, but many of the voices were from people who worked through agencies or informally as advocates or who were friends, like myself, of people who had to deal with FSSA privatization. The sheer number of people affiliated with agencies or other nonprofits was encouraging because there seemed to be such a consensus that the current system was very flawed.

On the other hand, I think the non-profit to individual ratio represents how voices get masked behind the web of non-profits in Bloomington. Ideally, I would love to see people, not just represented by the non-profits that serve them, but representing themselves, with support (childcare, transportation, media access, employment) from the social services to allow people who are affected by issues of healthcare access or food security to direct their own voices to decision makers. The reason for this seems complicated. Bloomington non-profits definitely lack the resources to be both service providers and support for communities organizing themselves. Still, I think many non-profits are trapped in the mindset of helping the less fortunate or “humanizing the system”, as one commenter stated, rather than being part of more radical and fundamental change by helping those most affected be at the forfront of the dialog and the decision making or critically reshaping the social values and assumptions that underly inequality in Monroe and the policies that preserve it.

The role of non-profits remains a difficult one. As many people at the forum explained, the privitization of FSSA services also involved the removal of local FSSA caseworkers from communities across Indiana. This created a situation where the FSSA representatives that most people dealt with (mostly over the phone) were both unfamiliar with their cases and could not effectively help with problems. Charlotte Zietlow, who works with the Middleway House, made the additional analysis that removing local caseworkers has placed the burden of casework on other local agencies that are already struggling to find the resources to do the work that they’re doing. Exaserbating resource scarcity for supporting people in Bloomington creates a fearful and competitive atmosphere, where non-profits don’t communicate or collaborate and where they choose to hold the course of their work rather than pushing the boundaries of what could be or expanding their work to challenge root causes instead of helping people survive.

Here are the notes:


  • Vi Simpson
  • Peggy Welch
  • Matt Pierce
  • Dan Combs
  • Linda Sievers?
  • Zach Main – FSSA – “The guy in charge of the project”

Comments from agencies

Luanne Morrow (Fiscal Coordinator w/ Stonebelt)

  • Deals with developmental disabilities who live in group homes and who are medicade funded.
  • Notices from FSSA come from P.O. Box, look like junk mail and are often thrown away.
  • Only one phone number for the whole state
  • Used to deal with local agencies
  • Recently the FSSA line has also been used for natural disaster issues, which has hurt access
  • Why can’t regional and local offices have seperate phone #’s
  • Monroe co. Medicade office moved and was hard to locate.
  • Need e-mail address contacts
  • 800# menu is really confusing
  • Records are accessed by case # (not medicade #). It’s hard to find this case # because it’s only on the mailings.
  • 10+ minute wait on 800 #.
  • Can only talk about 3 “consumers” at a time.
  • Her caseload is 66+ “consumers”
  • Have different points of contact so the same situation has to be explained over and over again.
  • FSSA reps wouldn’t talk to her as “consumer” representative because paperwork wasn’t filed
  • No phone number for offices.
  • Would only allow phone interview
  • Only called office phone, when she wasn’t there.
  • Thrown into reactive mode for advocating for her consumers
    • Forced to neglect other duties

Q (Peggy Welch): What has gotten better? What should we preserve in the system?
A (Luanne Morrow): Hasn’t seen anything that works better yet. “Everything has caused more work.”

Q (Vi Simpson): Why do you have to contact the office so frequently?
A : Each consumer has to have annual review with Medicade. Consumers have expenses with Stonebelt that they owe. This is funded through FSSA. Also, income, child support, etc. changes frequently.

Q (Dan Combs): Is there a specific group or contact for developmentally disabled individuals?
A: There used to be at the local office. There is allegedly a contact at the 800# who is a specific contact for group homes, but she hasn’t contacted them.

Q: Are there some people who navigate this w/o professional advocates?
A: Yes.

Comment (Linda Sievers): Works for an agency that has gotten access to the system to be able to pull up the FSSA records and pull up individual info by case #. This has been able to help some people.

Comment (Zach Main): Not here to argue or defend the system. “We’re working very hard.” Listening to feedback.

Chris Holly – Private advocate for medicade

  • Lots of people shouldn’t need me (if the system worked)
  • Personally likes to use the internet and feels tech savy, but the web forms on the FSSA site doesn’t work well.
  • FSSA doesn’t honor paper applications from the old days, even when the computer system doesn’t work.
    • This is important because things are time sensitive.
  • Biggest problem is that we can’t call someone at FSSA to finish a case.
  • Appointed rep doesn’t get notices.
  • For him, phone interviews are okay but
    • Reps aren’t familiar with the part of program he’s dealing with. He gets bumped to a specialist but can’t contact them directly.
  • Reps haven’t looked at documentation
  • Only get one chance for a call in a 2 hour window and one callback in 10 minutes.

Q: Peggy Welch: Does “failure to cooporate” describe people’s rejections from FSSA? Call doesn’t come through, often call the next morning instead, don’t reach the person, and the client get’s “failure to cooperate”. What does failure to cooporate mean?
(Lots of people in crowd raised hands in response to the first question)

A (Zach Main): Defined failure to cooperate as when reps say that they’ve sent them multiple notices and people haven’t met their responsibilities.

Q: Peggy Welch: In the past people could call to respond to find out why they got a failure to cooperate (what signature was missing, etc.). Now they can’t. What we’re missing is caseworkers (or a person responsible for a person). This is what missing, not the online forms.

A: Chris: This is a problem. There isn’t one person who understands the case and one person who is responsible. Social security has undergone similar modernizations but still has case workers.

Jody from Community Health and Wellness center in Bedford (also does WIC program)

  • One postive thing – likes being able to check WIC eligibility on the Internet
  • 17/52 prenatal patients are ineligible
  • One patient has applied 3 times.
    • Internet form didn’t let her enter info
  • Another patient is Asian and there are head of household communication issues
    • Jody has tried to support this family
    • Has had wrong doctor and wrong managed care assigned to her
    • Has been billed for ultrasound personally when she was eligible
  • Computer issue, website issues, enrollment center training issues, local agencies aren’t trained, provider issues, panel issues, accurate adding of people to
  • Using federal grant money to cover charges for ineligible folks “Who’s going to pay for them anyway.”

Vi: Why are they ineligible?

Vi: What about being in the 3rd trimester?

Jody: Yes

Tara Doyan: Crisis Pregnancy Center

  • Previously an enrollment site. Weren’t given info on how to do this in transition.
  • Needs caseworkers with knowledge of TANIF, childcare, hoosier healthwise, etc. that is a broad knowledge instead of having to be bounced around
  • Only given notification of interview call for 2 hour time frame a day before or 2 days before. This doesn’t work for working moms.

? from Southern Indiana Pediatrics

  • services thousands of kids (like 9000) on medicade
  • wants to provide same level of service to kids regardless of payer
  • Things have improved
    • Can now work with Anthem, MDWise, MHS, (Maybe one other)
    • Reimbursement rates improved under privitization because rates can be negotiated based on quality of care, level of utilization,
    • They’ve worked hard to develop relationships
    • Anthem and MHS works well (communication and websites)
  • Decrease in caseworkers has hurts patients
  • Autoassignment hurts patients
    • Assigned to care in a different county
    • Switched from provider they’ve used for years.

    Walked away from plans who have been bad business partners. They’ve steered parents away from MDWise because they haven’t gotten paid correctly from MDWise.

Jason Karns – Caseworker for Baron Hill’s office

  • Since conversion 2-3 issues a week (vs. 2-3 issues a month before)
  • 812.336.3000 – Contact Baron Hill’s office if you’re having a problem

Steve Sharp – Indiana Legal Services

  • 1.800.822.4774 – ILS contact # for help
  • Read letter from coworker who is a lawyer and wasn’t able to make the forum
    • Since mid may saw a sig. increase in cases due to clients losing benefits
    • Due to “Failure to cooporate”
    • In most of the cases of “failure to cooperate” people sent requried documents by deadline
      • i.e. document blurred in fax transaction = ‘failure to cooperate’
        • rejection letter was returned to sender so she never got the notice
        • didn’t find out until she tried to buy food and didn’t have funds
        • reapplied for expedited food stamps in May but never got a response
        • took a week for the release form to allow advocate to represent him
        • Call center rep verified that person had sent the required documents but couldn’t fix the error
      • No prompt way to resolve even agency errors
      • Old system: caseworker could solve this
      • New system: explainers and fixers but people can’t do both.
      • In the old system caseworkers could contact people when there was a problem. In the new system, people don’t run into problems.

Response (Zach): If a case takes too long to resolve, it does count against the error rate for IBM. If IBM’s success rate drops below 95%, they could lose funding

? – Rep from Area 10/2-1-1

  • Questions, need help, call 2-1-1
  • Calls, faxes, computer data gets “lost”
  • Better results when things are “wireless” (I assume she means face to face communication)
  • Food stamps is a big problem
  • Monroe county had a flood but even worse in Owen county
  • “Hispanic” community in Owen county even more vulnerable (esp. homes condemmed)
  • Dan Denny with HT has been able to get help for people by contacting FSSA directly
    • FSSA Ombudsman hasn’t been as helpful
  • Ever since the transition 2-1-1 has seen more calls.

Liz Jones – Area 10/2-1-1

  • Immediately on rollout got calls
  • Confused about system
  • Confused about lack of caseworker
  • 2-10 calls a day related to FSSA services
  • Mostly foodstamps
  • Lost benefits
  • Ultimately refered to local food pantries

Janet ? – Bloomington Housing Authority

  • 1350 section 8 families served by BHA
  • 17% (~945 familes) are disabled or elderly
  • “volumes you can’t believe” of folks coming with stacks of paperwork asking BHA to send (fax) paperwork for them
  • HT has been helpful
  • Not getting info from FSSA in a timely manner because these benefits effect people’s standing with BHA
  • Don’t always have case #, used to accessing by SSN#

Jacob ? – Legal aid coordinator w/ Shalom

  • As soon as the rollout happened, Shalom inundated with calls for assistance
  • IU law student has dedicated his summer to help folks with understanding the system and dealing with appeals
  • 20 cases active in last week
  • 3 “areas of concern”
    • Lack of local caseworkers
      • Frequent complaint from people the shalom center works with
      • Forms themselves are way too complex.
      • Folks need local caseworker to help understand forms
    • Homeless folks don’t have phone or internet, phone number to receive call back
      • This is the biggest concern
      • Rollout was handled by mass mailing
      • Transient population didn’t get the notice.
        • I.e. family lost housing so they didn’t get packet
        • lost benefits for them and their kids, still working to get benefits back.
    • In the past time between application and interview was ~ 2 days, now it’s 20 (even with expedited application)
      • Also, 7 day “limbo period” after app. submission
        • can’t confirm receipt or any errors

Charlotte Zeitlow – Case manager w/ Middleway House

  • Burden for caseworking has effectively been transferred to local agencies at a time when their resources are even more limited.
  • Women who get services from MWH need services but aren’t sophisticated electronically.
    • Don’t have time to get access to computers or needed training
    • Many women don’t have telephones
  • Asking people with the fewest resources to do the most complicated things technologically.

John Cardwell – Indiana Home Care Task Force, Generations project (looks at privitization issues)

  • Problems articulated at this forum have been articulated in Muncie/Anderson/Kokomo particularly affected because they are the last community affected by the rollout
  • People affected by this should work with caseworkers or representatives to file a “formal complaint:to “Food and Nutrition Service of U.S. Department of Agriculture” (Tim English, I think he said). Chicago office. Send foodstamp complaints here.
  • Center for Medicade and Medicare Services (CMMS) – has Chicago office. Will take formal complaints.* Above 2 orgs initiates fed investigation into Indiana problems.
  • Biggest problem is lack of caseworkers
  • As a test, gave highly educated people the 16 page app. They would have all received a failure to cooperate notice because they couldn’t interpret the application
  • Thinks IBM/ACS contract needs a “thorough public audit”.
  • Federal law
  • How $’s are being used
  • Staff in Marion call center aren’t trained
  • Caseworkers who were transferred have left
  • Wants formal legislative hearings on this.

Comments from individuals

Mike Biggs – interested in this issue

  • Indiana didn’t knock people off rolls initially and was successful and keeping good track of who should/shouldn’t be on the rolls. This got worse with privatization.
  • Replacing trained FSSA staff with IBM workers and volunteers. This change hasn’t helped people. One state number instead of local service. Offices inaccessible because they’re hard to find and harder to get to.
  • Goal of this was to knock people off of the rolls

Mary – Medicade User

  • Forum balance on agencies rather than users
  • Spent 2 hours on phone this morning and was referred to 6 different numbers to get one medicade answer
  • Can’t have a needed procedure until another (lower cost) procedure was done first
    • Trying to be a good steward of medicare money, response was “just do the procedure anyway”.
  • Couldn’t get info about restricitons and her particular case
  • Given the run-around on the phone
  • Don’t know what department to direct her to on the phone
  • Wants to find a caseworker.

Catherine – Restuarant Owner

  • Crime in neighborhood has increased since FSSA changes
  • Increase in mentally ill people visiting her restaurant
    • Feels these people are getting knocked off of FSSA rolls
  • “I’ve never seen poverty like I’ve seen in Indiana”
  • There’s a “war on the poor people in Indiana”.
  • IN should find a model in other states that works and be adopted in IN.
  • Case workers are very important to bring back.

? – Received foodstamps and medicade services for children

  • Ivy tech student, had to miss classes to attend forum
  • Didn’t receive call at the time that they said.
    • Threatened with loss of job

? – Works with immigrants

  • Children (even undocumented) are able to have some benefits
  • When calling, call center doesn’t speak spanish, asks for SSN which people can’t give (even though their undocumented kids are eligible)
  • Technology difficult to navigate, even for those with computers
  • Need computers and tech support at local offices
  • Need people who can interpret different languages

Dianna Goodman – Ivy tech student

  • Classmate couldn’t take full course load, so she lost eligibility

Bob – medicade user

  • Dyslexic, found out today that he was denied for 2 years for his medicade

Panelist Comments

Linda (Panelist) – Township Trustee

  • Township can help
    • Food pantry
    • Rent/mortgage assistance
      • Makes decision about this in 72 horus
    • Shelter

Vi Simpson (Panelist) – State rep

  • Thanked FSSA for their flood relief, esp. one stop shop for Brown county
    • Flood relief proves that we can accomplish things when we work together
  • system faced “sudden and emotional changes”
  • system is broken
  • Because so many lives and vulnerable people depend on these programs working well and efficiently, by working together we can improve things. This is really the reason for today’s meeting.
  • Hope that by bringing caseworkers here today, they could solve specific problems, but also wants to identify systemic problems
  • I learned today: 2 page document to apply for children’s health service -> 18 page document
    • Vi was on comittee that recommended a 2 page app.
  • This summer there will be hearings on this issue
  • Contract needs to be funded in the budget so this could come into play in the budget hearings
  • FSSA has suspended rollout to further counties

Matt Pierce (Panel) – Rep

  • The way we serve the neediest members of our soceity is the fundamental gauge of our government
  • General assembly must provide oversight
    • Understand what’s happening in system
    • ensure that changes are made if needed
    • Hearings this summer, this is the beginning of the process.
  •  Goal: to have as few people as possible slip through the cracks -> contact his office if you need help
  • Biggest concern: people reduced to data points. We might have moved into a structural system that has caused this to happen.
Peggy Welch (Panel)
  •  Panel of “experts” because they’ve heard from so many people about this
  • There’s been an increase in calls. This represents some kind of systemic problem.
  • Peggy serves on ways and means committee. Not sure if current contract represents the most efficient use of taxpayer money in terms of people getting services. These questions will be asked during the summer.
  • This forum will be broadcast on CATS.

Dan Combs (panel) – township?

  •  Most disturbing forum he’s ever been at
  • Developmentally disabled left on their own w/o advocate.
  • Sees this as a result of deinstitutionalization
  • Vendors don’t neccessarily want to work in this area. They’re in it to make money.
  • Has taken 20+ years to build relationships with vendors
    • Local mortuary was going to stop taking medicade burials because they couldn’t get paid
  • Township couldn’t get ahold of FSSA via phone number after rollout
  • Media coverage changed this and the township was able to get a direct contact
  • Direct contact is key, this doesn’t exist for client
  • Social services will never be cheap or cost effective
  • Good people in Indiana, not out to do a bad job, but we need to look and see if the job we’re supposed to be doing is what we’re doing.
  • Low income people couldn’t have made a later meeting either because of non 9-5 hours of many workers* “Maybe it’s even bigger than what I thought it was”.

Zach Main (panel) – FSSA

  • Changes in the last 3 years had the goal of making life better for neediest Hoosiers
  • “It’s not a perfect system”
  • Local office channel of communication is still available (his answer for call to casework)
  • Changes
    • FSSA will increase staffing of local offices
    • FSSA local office will be able to handle cases from beginning to end
    • FSSA will remind people of local office option
  • Goal wasn’t to force people to use phone/Internet
  • FSSA working on forming closer partnerships with advocate organizations
  • “Today is not the end, it is the beginning”