On Sept 11, after months of minor and major symptoms, I was diagnosed with Autoimmune Dermatomyositis, a muscle disorder related to my cancer. The symptoms include muscle wasting, muscle and joint pain and, if untreated will lead to life in a wheelchair or bed.
On September 17, just a week later, I was laid off. I had started the application process for FMLA - Family and Medical Leave Act - which ensures that I cannot be fired while on sick leave. I spoke to the FMLA offices and started the process but hadn't filed any paperwork yet.
On September 19th I found out that Arizona has zero Medicaid coverage for adults without dependents.
Spoke to Lauri at Healthcare.gov to no avail. All she did was give me the number to Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). Their offices are closed now - will try tomorrow, but their website so far indicates there's nothing for me there either.
I found out that the FMLA is nothing but a piece of paper to make employees feel better, then employers can do whatever the hell they want.
LIMITATIONS TO FMLA PROTECTIONS
An employee on FMLA leave is not protected from actions that would have affected him or her if the employee was not on FMLA leave. For example, if a shift has been eliminated, or overtime has been decreased, an employee would not be entitled to return to work that shift or the original overtime hours.
* If an employee is laid off during the period of FMLA leave, the employer must be able to show that the employee would not have been employed at the time of reinstatement. *
So, essentially, all an employer has to do is say the position was eliminated as a business decision unrelated to the health issue, but (even though it's called a lay-off), the position won't be available when you come off of your leave. They just have to prove that they fired you, pretty much.
Spoke to Stephen at HRSA, the Health Resources and Services Administration. He was as helpful as their website. No, they only have no or low cost clinic-type facilities. They don't offer any kind of healthcare themselves and have no information on who might or where I might go to find out. He did offer the Patient Advocate Foundation's number. Thanks.
He also suggest Hill/Burton facilities, which are federally funded hospitals that can't turn away patients for monetary reasons. There's one in Tucson. Now if I only had a job that paid me money so I could trek to Tuscon once a week. That's what I need! A job!
I filed for unemployment on the 17th. The paperwork to complete the app came in on Saturday. At the time I filled out the app, I didn't know how much my vacation pay was going to be so I guessed. I should have said zero, but whatever, I'd still probably have to fill out paperwork. I mailed them today, Sept, 23rd. They were dated the 19th and said I had 5 FIVE FIIIVREE days to return them or I'd be denied. Talk about small goddamn windows.
So I got my crippled ass in my car and drove 45 minutes to Scottsdale to my doctor's office so they could fill out the needed paperwork and get it returned in due time. Fax and mail. The drive was okay, no traffic. Found the office again and opened the door to a dark office. The man inside looked as shocked as I was. Apparently they close every Monday and if I hadn't been so avoidant about using the phone, I might have called first and saved me the trouble. Either way, it worked out sorta ok, as the guy in the office let me leave the paperwork for Vanessa, the office manager or whatever. Just gotta call in the AM so it gets dealt with correctly.
Tuesday, Sept, 24 - Finished the online application for food assistance. Yippee.
Wednesday, Sept, 25I tried to refill my prescriptions early, since I'm going to be completely without healthcare in the 1st of the month and wanted to get them at co-pay prices.
Apparently you're not allowed to refill meds too soon, even if it is just to horde them for a trip OR FUTURE LOSS OF INSURANCE! So, magically, the meds aren't going to get filled until the 2nd - you know, to insure that my insurance company doesn't have to do their fucking job or lay out any of the services they already took my money for. Nice scam. Insurance companies are the devil.
Thursday, Sept 26
Filled out more forms for unemployment.
Finished filling out online forms for food stamps
Had phone interview with foodstamp people
Filed for SSDI disability
Need to send in appropriate medical records.