Medicaid Deactivated, ABC News Fixer Helps Get It Back

"Life-saving" dialysis endangered by Medicaid confusion.

January 22, 2014, 2:50 PM

Jan. 22, 2014 — -- Dear ABC News Fixer: My husband is currently on dialysis and requires medical transportation service to and from his treatments. Also, he takes numerous medications daily.

He has been on Medicaid for the past three years. Each year we send in his renewal promptly – including this year. They received his renewal on Oct. 9, well in advance of the November deadline. However, his Medicaid card was deactivated and the renewal has not yet been processed.

At this moment, my husband is in the hospital, receiving treatment for a foot wound. He will need ambulette transport to leave the hospital -- and then again, to take him to dialysis. He also needs medicine. The expenses of these are impossible without Medicaid.

Please, please, let me know if you can help me secure benefits for him. There has not been a change in his or my status since he qualified for Medicaid. His dialysis treatments are life-saving and cannot be missed.

- Marcia Meshel, New York City, N.Y.

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Dear Marcia: When we first reached you, you were at your wits' end. First, you learned your husband's card was being deactivated as of Jan. 1 when the medical transport company told you they could no longer book service for him. You said you and your husband's case worker called New York City's Human Resources Administration and other help numbers, but couldn't get any answers about when his card would be reactivated – even though they had received the renewal in October.

You told us that with all these calls – made before you contacted the ABC News Fixer -- you got through to two human beings: One who told you it could take two months, and another who said your social worker needed to furnish proof that he was qualified. (Later, you said you also called the city's 311 line, and the rep there suggested you ask Catholic Charities for help.)

The ABC News Fixer readied our Red Tape Machete for battle. We got in touch with Carmen Boon, spokeswoman for the city's Human Resources Administration. She jumped on the case right away, and got the Medicaid folks to expedite the renewal of your husband's card. He was discharged by the hospital and was transported to a rehab facility, paid for by Medicaid. Boon said such a delay in handling a renewal is "very rare."

The weird part is Boon told us your hubby was covered the whole time – that he could have used the old card and this would not have affected his ability to get emergency services. Boon said the medical providers would have been able to bill Medicaid and get reimbursed later, after the activation was done. She said the providers should have known that.

She also said they couldn't find any record of your earlier calls, suggesting that perhaps you'd ended up with the wrong department.

Either way, you said you're glad it's over. Best wishes to your husband as he recuperates.

- The ABC News Fixer

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