This morning I received a phone call from Michelle Cofano from the Florida Department of Elder Affairs. 1 She was calling to let me know that she does Medicaid eligibility approval, which is apparently another way of saying that she is responsible for submitting the “level of care” data to the state. (Yes, this is the same “level of care” that I was just investigating earlier today.)

Michelle was calling me from Woodland Terrace, where she was reviewing mom’s chart. She said that her job was to check to see if people meet the criteria to qualify for Medicaid, and that mom does. She also wanted to let me know that this call from her would likely be the only call I received from anyone in the department. She said that in order to qualify for Medicaid, one had to receive approval from a financial standpoint and a medical standpoint, and that she was approving the medical. Michelle also told me that there were state and federal regulations and legislation that mandated every potential Medicaid recipient acquire both of these approvals before being granted Medicaid.

I gave her the long-form summary of mom’s story to date, including telling her several times that she should visit this website for more information. She assured me that she would.

I asked her why this was the first time this “level of care” was being done, since we’ve been trying to get mom approved for Medicaid for about nine months now. Michelle said that according to her records the first and only request to have a “level of care” assessment performed was on July 27th, 2012. She guessed that the reason it hadn’t been done yet was because none of the previous places where mom has been since December 1st, 2011 was an actual “nursing home”, 2 and only a nursing home would have requested it.

That’s sort of troubling and annoying, of course, because Janis Stovall 3 at Grace Manor Port Orange and Sophia Mas at Stewart-Marchman and Sofia at Coastal Rehab told me on multiple occasions that they were very familiar with the process, that they were doing everything necessary to acquire Medicaid for mom, and that I should trust them to handle things. 4

At one point during the call, while I was describing to her how frustrating the last nine months have been, that even something as simple as getting to talk to mom on the phone is a huge hassle, Michelle — who was talking to me on a cell phone — walked into mom’s room to attempt to let me talk to her. It was very sweet of her, but I guess they had just recently gotten mom out of bed and so she was almost completely unresponsive. If she said anything while Michelle held the phone to her ear, I didn’t hear it. I said, “Hello? Mom?” several times, and, “It’s me, David,” but there was nothing but her near-silent whimpering cry on the other end of the line. After less than a minute Michelle (who clearly felt like she had made a terrible mistake) came back on the line and said that mom seemed to be agitated at the moment.

I told Michelle that mom has been like that for weeks and weeks now — since at least when I visited around Mother’s Day — and not to feel badly. At least mom got to hear my voice today.

Michelle promised me that she was going to submit the “level of care” to the state tomorrow, and that I should feel a little better knowing that we are at least one step closer to getting mom approved for Medicaid.

Michelle was incredibly patient, understanding, caring, and just plain nice. We talked for almost exactly one hour.

1 During the call she also said that she worked for C.A.R.E.S.; I’m not really sure if C.A.R.E.S. is a department in the Department of Elder Affairs or what. It’s all pretty confusing.
2 except for Coastal Rehab, but she had only been there for one week
3 and / or the “other” Janice at that facility; I can never remember which was which
4 And of course I didn’t trust them, and I was correct to not trust them, because they all failed miserably at making any progress in getting my mother approved for Medicaid. Trust no one. Ever.