Thursday, March 17, 2011

Know Thy Enemy.

Dennis Smith and the Heritage Foundation

Dennis Smith was appointed by Governor Scott Walker to serve as Secretary of the Department of Health Services on January 3, 2011. He rolled up his sleeves and jumped right into the work at hand. Smith has been laying the groundwork for changes to Medicaid for many years. He has an impressive resume to support his credentials as an expert on this subject. As we now know, no time was wasted on drafting the Budget Repair Bill which will give Smith unprecedented power to make the changes he has outlined over the years in his various roles as a Medicaid Representative.

Eye Opening Research

Something kept popping up as I was doing my research and that was Smiths connection to the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank that proudly and prominently features Rush Limbaugh and Shawn Hannity as members on their opening page. I found some comments on their 'about us' page rather interesting:

We generate solutions consistent with our beliefs and market them to the Congress, the Executive Branch, the news media and others.
We believe that ideas have consequences, but that those ideas must be promoted aggressively. 
We constantly try innovative ways to market our ideas.

As a product demonstrator, it's my job to aggressively promote the products my company represents. My job is to convince you to buy a product you may not have considered purchasing otherwise. I show you all the bells and whistles and how shiny and new it is and explain how this product will make your life better, save you time and money. Sounds nice doesn't it? Except that product might have hidden costs to you as a consumer later on, but, by then you're convinced you can't live without it. Don't get me wrong, I love doing product demonstrations, but I have also fallen victim to my own hype as I just described. The difference is what I promote is an object, a material possession, people can and have said no to it. What the Heritage Foundation 'aggressively promotes' is their beliefs which as most people will tell you are subjective. They don't give you the option of saying no. Which leads me to my next point.


I will let their 'objectives' speak for themselves. Phrases like: generate public pressure, change the public's view of entitlements, convincing Americans that raising taxes harms growth and jobs, should concern us all. They are 'aggressively' promoting their 'beliefs' and it has resulted in them gaining major victories.

 Where is the Humanity?

As I was reading the articles published by Smith, that are posted on the Heritage Foundations website I noticed that at one point it seemed as if he understood the 'human' aspect of what health care is about. Then it becomes apparent that something changed and it became more about a political agenda. The human element was removed in favor of privatization and aligning himself with a specific group intent on a power grab. It's sad to see someone lose their humanity. I wonder if as a father of  four daughters, he is willing to subject them to the same rules he is now proposing that 1.2 million residents will have to endure, including limiting funding for end stage renal failure, which is a death sentence. How do you make those decisions as a parent, a representative, as a human? Governor Jan Brewer of Arizona has already made this decision and two people have died, she is now facing a recall.

What frustrates and scares those of us that rely on Medicaid here in Wisconsin is the lack of details from Smith. What we do know is that funding for mental health is gutted. This affects my son, as it is, he is not able to get counseling because it is not covered under the Core Plan. He suffers in silence and hides from the world, unable to get the help he needs to be a functioning member of society. The system is heartless and cruel to those most in need and it appears it will get worse. I would love to be wrong, but as I mentioned in my first post, the powers that be seem to have no interest in what the residents of this State have to say. Time will tell what happens to us.

Thank you for your time today.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Unfolding Medicaid Battle in Wisconsin


Thank you for visiting my blog. I know the title of my blog is shocking but it is true. Allow me to explain this statement, but let me start by giving you some information about my background and the back story. Please be patient as I lay the ground work for this claim.

Personal History

 I am number eight from a family of nine children. I grew up in the beautiful countryside of North East Wisconsin. My Father worked at the Manitowoc Shipbuilding Company and had a side business as an upholsterer. My Mother was a nurses aide at various facilities in the area. My parents taught me many valuable lessons growing up. They led by example, they worked opposite shifts so there was always one parent home to keep an eye on us. My parents struggled, they were children of the Great Depression, they raised nine children, they were to proud to ask for assistance when needed, and they experienced many hardships including the loss of my brother that died of cancer at the age of 29. They did not have an easy life, but they took good care of us and I will always be grateful for that. Their example has helped me to be a good parent to my children, I love my children with all my heart. My family and friends have helped me in difficult times, I am thankful for their loving support through my many difficult situations. I am a single Mom that has been self employed, employed, under employed, filed for bankruptcy, had my home go into foreclosure three times and then became seriously ill.

Medical Crisis

By April of 2009 I was not feeling well, I worked part time at Menards on the morning Stocking team. I loved the job because I was home by 11:15 a.m. I also sold my hand crafted jewelry at a local farmers market on Wednesday afternoons and Saturday mornings. By August, I knew something was really wrong, I called our family Doctor and was told I needed to pay $100 before I would get an appointment. Working Part time and at the market, I didn't have enough for the visit. My son and I applied for Badger Care were accepted at the end of October in 2009. The HMO did not go into effect until January 1st 2010. By then I was no longer able to function, I went to the emergency room January 2nd 2010. They ran a CT scan and found a mass, they thought it was ovarian cancer, I was sent to West Allis that afternoon by ambulance. The Doctor determined it was Pseudomyxoma Peritonei, January 3rd I was in surgery. He removed six inches of my colon, appendix and performed a complete hysterectomy. I was in the hospital for two weeks, a few days after I came home, I was fired from Menards, a few weeks after that my Father passed away.

 Pseudomyxoma Peritonei, is a rare disease, mucinious tumors fill the peritoneal cavity, the only way to remove them is by surgery, it is called a debaulking process. After the debalking process there is the option of pouring heated chemotherapy directly into the body to kill any potential new growth. For some it has helped, for others it had to be repeated. It appears that most people with this disease can withstand about six to eight surgeries before they succumb to the illness. I have had one so far. I already have new growth that will need to be removed sometime this year, that will make two. The medical costs have reached $140,000. That includes follow up care, tests and CT scans which is how my Doctor monitors the growth. My family physician and specialist have done an amazing job taking care of my health and I have been included in all aspects of my care. By having my records centralized they have been able to co ordinate tests and procedures so there is no overlapping or missed opportunities for preventive care.


A friend of mine helped me apply for disability and SSI while I was recoup-orating, the disability office returned a decision within a week.  SSI began the next month which is $777 a month, I had to wait five months for disability which is $359 a month, this is based on my past earnings. Once disability started, SSI was knocked down because between the two, you are allowed only $777. My son and I also get Foodshare at $313. a month. There is a reason I am giving these numbers, it will explained shortly. During all of this I was dealing with the mortgage company because my house was in foreclosure. That's another story.

I was able to recover and go back to work as a merchandiser and product demonstrator, jobs that do not require strenuous activities and I was able to work at the market again selling my jewelry. As mentioned above according to the rules, SSI does not count the first $65 of income, for every two dollars I earn they take away $1 in benefits. If I earn more that $135 a month it knocks out SSI, if I do this three months in a row, it completely wipes out SSI. Again, there is a reason I am telling you this.

Finally the mortgage co. worked out what they think is a deal to keep me in my home. The mortgage, property taxes and insurance total $420. a month. So, do the math, I have a few hundred dollars left over to cover my bills, which are not many but as we see, prices are skyrocketing and it is difficult to get ahead once you are caught in this system.

This is why I say Scott Walker is going to kill me.

As the world knows there has been a mighty battle raging in Wisconsin about workers rights. They have the right to be upset, it's their voice which is being silenced. But what the country does not know is there was another voice silenced with the passing of this Bill. In the Budget Repair Bill was a provision titled: Health Services. I was curious because Walker campaigned on cutting Medicaid. During his campaign I joked to my family that if he won I would have to start a blog titled: Scott Walker is going to kill me. When he won the election I didn't pay attention because I was dealing with other personal issues. I did notice how quickly he was pushing through  legislation, as we now know the budget repair bill was one of them. I read the Bill on the 17th of February, since I was not able to understand the verbiage because I don't speak lawyer, I asked my daughter to research it for me. She sent me an article that was featured in the Milwaukee Journal Sentential. What I read shocked me to the core, here is the link: Notice paragraph three:
Among other things, the secretary of the Department of Health Services - under the direction of Walker - would have unilateral authority to modify benefit levels, reduce income levels for purposes of determining eligibility and authorize providers to deny care or services if a program benefit recipient is unable to share costs.

As I mentioned above, my income is very low, how would I be able to share the costs? I cried all night and wanted to attend the rally that Saturday, but I didn't have enough gas to get there and the tea party was going to be there and I was not in the right frame of mind to face them.  So, I started to do in depth research and what I found was more even distressing. Health advocacy groups were already meeting and trying to get the word out about what was going to happen to Medicaid, the media didn't want to cover the story. They demanded answers to pressing questions and were given cold calculated answers with no details, this concerns them. Knowing that there was going to be no details, I contacted a local news station and they interviewed me and I was on the local news that evening, as the days went on more articles were hitting the internet, but it was not getting the national coverage it demanded.Then the Senators did the unthinkable, they peeled off collective bargaining and Medicaid. They got their way. Here is a summary of Walkers Budget Bill:
Notice what's on pages 2 and 3:
The Governor’s budget: limits Medicaid reimbursement for end stage renal disease.
Funeral and Burial Expenditures: The Governor’s budget increases funding for the costs of payments for funeral and burial services for indigent Medicaid recipients:
$3,897,000 FY 12 and $4,043,800 FY 13. The Governor’s budget also creates a separate
appropriation for the program.

Here is why this is important. According to the Walker administration, they will make sweeping changes to Medicaid with little or no input from the public or legislators. They will be removing up to 65,000 people from the program by July of next year. Decisions will be made behind closed doors by someone who is not an elected official and this person (Dennis Smith) along with Walker has an agenda. The people of Wisconsin are now at the mercy of the Governor and his political allies. They basically will decide who lives or dies.

They could decide that I am not a good return on their investment, that my care is to expensive, that I can be sacrificed to balance the budget. As it looks they have already decided that kidney patients can be sacrificed for their political agenda. They want you to believe that we are in financial crisis, this is how they push through policies that would not be able to under 'normal' circumstances. In all honesty I would like to believe they will make the system better, but their actions and lack of details about this does not instill any confidence in me. The fact that they breathed threats at every turn and blamed the 'Wisconsin 14' for lay offs and having to with hold payments to nursing homes because they would not return, was despicable. Why should anyone trust them?


I have been directing people to and, they have been posting the most up to date information about this, they explain it in more details. Shawn Doherty of has been doing in depth articles on this subject, you can follow along at her blog: vital signs. The rest of the country needs to be aware of what is happening here, if they can do it here, other Republican held states will do the same. In fact I am following that story and will be discussing it in later posts. This is a well thought out plan to dismantle Medicaid and ties into their larger plans, which is to bring down the Health Care Bill signed into law last year.

Wisconsin has to win this fight, lives are at risk and people don't even know it yet. I recommend that other States look into the their Bills being passed, you will probably find the same provisions in yours. Educate yourselves on the issues. Voices are being silenced on all sorts of issues, don't let them silence yours!

Thank you for your time, I appreciate your interest and will post more in the coming days as more is revealed.