2002-06-29 / Letters

'Twas Titus Turned The Tide

'Twas Titus Turned The Tide

Dear Editor;

As a resident of Far Rockaway living with a plethora of disabilities, including Prostate Cancer and a total hip prosthesis. I was poorly equipped to take on the bureaucratic monolith that is Medicaid. The part of Medicaid that deals with medical treatment is aware that after radiation treatments a patient is directed to eat fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains to cleanse the radiation from the bowel. They paid for radiation treatment and for the doctor to give me these directions. Medicaid also knows that I have a total hip prosthesis that requires prophylactic antibiotics to be taken prior to any dental treatment where there might be bleeding, so as to minimize the chance of infection to the prosthesis. They paid to put in the prosthesis!

Yes when my upper denture split in two, requiring me to either 1) not comply with doctors orders, 2) replace the dentures by getting the "dental end" of Medicaid to recognize the medical arm of Medicaid or #3) Crazy Glue the denture back together so you can eat at all while you wait for Medicaid to act period.

Addicted to sustenance I had no choice but to go with option #3, "walk around with teeth glued together with poison (Crazy Glue says right on the tube: Warning Not To Be Taken Internally).

After calling and visiting nearly every Medicaid office and essentially being told what they couldn't do for me. I had the security guard at the Beach 81st Medicaid office call 911 so I could at least try to address my plight to some governmental entity. If not Medicaid then maybe through the Police Department and the Criminal Justice System.

The responding sergeant and police officer were very nice as they explained that my problem was not under their jurisdiction, but they were able to obtain some phone #'s of higher-up levels of Medicaid managers that "might" be able to help. Five minutes before the 911 call and the police sergeant appearing on the scene, these phone numbers were unavailable to me.

Not so, the sergeant yet, even with these numbers I was struck by the thought that Stevie Wonder will find Jimmy Hoffa before I could get someone, anyone inside Medicaid to even address my concerns.

In desperation and almost out of ideas I went to the office of my Assemblywoman Michelle Titus, 31st Assembly District office.

As a lifelong cynic armed with an "I told you so" attitude both before and after the Enron debacle, I was astounded by and grateful for the immediacy of attention to my problem shown by Assemblywoman Titus' coordinator of legislative and Constituent Affairs, Ms. Martha Taylor Butler.

Within 5 minutes with me sitting at her desk, she contacted the doctor in Albany actually deciding the approval. Had me get my dentist request in writing the approval consideration as he had 4 weeks before which Medicaid said they "never" got.

She had me bring it across the street to the Post Office, had it sent express mail overnight, apologizing to me because she'd have to reimburse me the $12.45 in stamps instead of cash.

Can you imagine that? After a month-long Medicaid marathon where I felt like a one-legged man at a butt-kicking contest, this angel solved in 30 minutes what I couldn't even get them to address in thirty days and she's sorry she'd have to reimburse me in stamps instead of cash. I said to myself "Toto, we're not in Medicaid anymore."

My dentist, who got the approval to start work, I had my first casting Friday, the second casting Monday, I'll have the teeth themselves the following Friday. When he asked how I got them to make a decision in anything other than Jupiter time, I responded I didn't, The Butler did it. Martha Taylor Butler, Coordinator of Legislative & Constituent Affairs for Michelle R. Titus, Assemblywoman, 31st District, Queens.

As policy is set from the top, and implemented by the staff, it is truly refreshing to find a politician who equates public service and public trust.

Such commitment to their constituency regardless of their economic station is rare. But it does exist. I found it here in Far Rockaway. I found it in Assemblywoman Michelle R. Titus' office in the personage of Martha Taylor Butler. Hopefully forever your constituent, knowingly always your friend.

I'm glad Enron is in Texas. I'm thrilled Assemblywoman Titus is in New York.


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