It’s doubtful you’ve ever heard of the Recipient Audit Unit of the Division of Program Integrity of the Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services.
But with such a daunting 17-word title, you can bet it ranks up there with other government agencies in terms of its capacity to snarl a wife and mother of two in the finest grade of bureaucratic red tape.
Her name is Melissa Cadwell. She’s been tangling with the RAU of the DPI of the VDMAS for months now. They’ve dunned her for $1,108.98 and are threatening to send the debt to collections.
Cadwell’s saga is interesting, frustrating and littered with other acronyms, too: DSS, COBRA and FAMIS. Permit me to add another just one more: SNAFU.
Cadwell and her husband, Joel, live down in the Pulaski County community of Fairlawn with their two children, Cody, now 17, and Alicia, 14. Joel’s a disabled veteran who fought in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
Until March 2009, the family’s health insurance came through her job at Goodyear. They lost that when Goodyear shut down its Radford operation and laid everyone off, she said.
The Cadwells couldn’t afford expensive COBRA insurance (which requires a former employee to pay the entire cost) on her unemployment checks. So through the Pulaski County Department of Social Services, Melissa signed up Cody and Alicia for a health-insurance program for low-income children called FAMIS, which essentially is Medicaid.
By April of 2010 Melissa had landed another job with a large national bank. Her health insurance there started that June, so she called Pulaski County DSS and told them that the kids no longer needed Medicaid coverage.
“The caseworker at the time told me I needed to submit that in writing,” Melissa told me. “And so I did, to the local Pulaski Department of Social Services. I did not send it certified. Now I wish I had.”
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