Getting caught in that gap between the eyes, in the place the eye cannot see except with a mirror, that might be what it feels like for those who need home care and other services but can’t get it. For one Michigan couple, that’s exactly what happened due to a simple mistake.
Shirley Thompson was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis when she was 27. Her husband Joe has since left his full-time job after 29 years to take care of her. The issue that led them to be without care involves Medicaid coverage through the State of Michigan.
When Joe left his job, they didn’t sign Shirley up for full Medicaid coverage and ultimately failed to meet a specific seven-month window to apply. Now they’ve been scrambling to get adequate home care support and other services, even missing out on necessary medical treatment in the meantime.
They don’t have the income necessary to pay for these services out-of-pocket and repeated requests for exemptions have been denied. They stated they can’t afford insurance on their own and when Shirley broke her leg in a fall back in November, they were not covered.
As noted by the Lansing State Journal in its blog, Putnam: State pulls health care for Charlotte woman with multiple sclerosis, broken leg, written by Judy Putnam:
“The couple’s income is low now that he’s not working, just a small amount of veteran’s benefits and Social Security disability payments. They do have some assets in a vacation home that Shirley inherited as well as retirement savings. That limits Medicaid plans other than the Healthy Michigan Plan.
Shirley can now apply for Medicare, as the application window is open, but she won’t get it until July.
That’s more than a year without health insurance for her. She’s forgone a colonoscopy, mammogram, flu shot and postponed visits to her urologist and neurologist. The Multiple Sclerosis Society is helping pay for a neurologist and a needed MRI.”
There may be numerous people in similar circumstances around the country, each struggling to gain access to the right types of care. For many of these men and women, elderly and disabled, home care is one of the best assets, but it can also be one of the most challenging to pay for or find the right programs to cover them.
When getting lost in that one place the eye can’t see, yelling and screaming, jumping up and down and hoping somebody pays attention can feel as though it’s the only thing one can do. Shirley will get coverage again, starting in July, but that will equal more than a year without.
That can be a lifetime to somebody who needs direct care and support now.