Saturday, February 25, 2023

Look, What GHI is Doing to my Hand

I just can't wait to get on Medicare (Dis)advantage with the issues I've been having with Emblem GHI the last month or so. BTW, that was sarcasm.

About a year ago I was waking up, as well as recurring throughout the day, with pins and needles in my left (dominant) hand and fingers. I assumed it was because of a pinched nerve in my neck and went to a chiropractor (Didn't need a referral and I recall when chiropractors weren't covered). I went for about a month and stopped due to it was getting better and I didn't have time anymore. 

But around late October, early November,  the symptoms came back. Worse. There was pain with the pins and needles. It would wake me up in the middle of the night. The numbness would take an hour to go away. So this time I went to a spine surgeon that I know of, Dr Jonathan Oren (The ABSOLUTE best! If you have spine issues, he can work miracles. Mention me to him and get a free glass of wine compliments of Lenox Hill Hospital) (He deals with. REAL spine issues, not fantastical spine issues. And, his office isn't in a storefront or a strip mall). Again, no referral was necessary. Good.

I was examined and x-rayed. Dr Oren not being some gonoff doctor saw nothing abnormal in my spine and suggested I see a hand specialist and also to have an EMG. Since I already have a hand surgeon due to an arthritis issue my left thumb that part was taken care of. I also made an appointment for the EMG.

So far so good. Notice I am in control of my healthcare. 

I went to the hand doctor. He gave me a diagnosis of Carpal Tunnel and Cubital Tunnel Syndromes. I was also directed to start PT at once. Better, I knew the place where I wanted to go! The same PT where I went when I had my shoulder replaced three years ago. 

I called and was told that they don't take GHI for hand therapy. Say what? Yep, that was true. In fact when I looked closer at the script, the doctor wrote I was referred for "occupational therapy." I found out a few days later that anything from the elbow to the hand is considered occupational, not physical, therapy. 

Reluctantly I reached out to several other PT centers and heard the same. None took GHI for occupational therapy.

But I got a surprise with my last phone call. 

It was not that PT centers did not wish to take GHI. They couldn't. Why? Because GHI does not cover occupational therapy. Yeah. It doesn't. I found out after speaking with the hand therapists where I am going now that GHI is the only plan they know of which doesn't cover occupational therapy. 

How am I rehabbing the hand? I was told by a hand therapist where I am now to have the doctor  re-write the script to "physical therapy." Instead of a hand (occupational) therapist working on me it will be a physical therapist. The PT I have now is fantastic and he gets his instructions for the hand people. How does this make sense?

I understand how complicated the hand is. I nearly sliced my thumb off cutting open a roll at Grand Union in 1984. I severed the tendon and nerve in my thumb and hand therapy helped quite a bit. It is proven science. But who knows how the powers that be think at GHI. I mean, who do we even bring this up or complain to?

Overall I have been happy with GHI. This story is like a gnat flying in front of my face at a picnic. But with Mulgrewcare it won't be a little gnat fucking around with our healthcare. It'll be a flying Mulgrewsosaurus right in front of us with it's hairy and pimply ass right in our faces.

I'm grateful that at no point have I had to get clearance to see a specialist, receive a test, or go to PT (though with PT one needs to re-certify after 16 visits). I am grateful that I spoke with someone who told me how to get around the system. 

But to deny occupational therapy for whatever reason is mind boggling! What happens is someone else didn't have the resourcefulness, guile, or perseverance I have? That person just might wind up with an atrophied, useless hand. This is one of the inherent dangers of Mulgrewcare. How many will be told "no" and just accept that? 

Seven months after total shoulder replacement I was swinging a golf club again. Eight months after I was playing a round of golf. Will I, or anyone else, be able to have access to world class physical therapy on Mulgrewcare? Or even the surgeon who operated on me?

If I have to have surgery on my hand, I'll be damned if I won't be out of a golf course no more than six weeks after surgery. Again, I'll have top notch PT and a surgeon.

Fix the healthcare. Give us occupational therapy. Give us what we want. Don't fix what is broken. 

Monday, February 20, 2023

DC 37 Settled. What's Next for UFT Members?

 It seems that DC 37 has set the bargain for us all. Thank you DC 37! But is it all for naught?

As per James Eterno's blog and The City DC 37 agreed raises of:

May 26, 2021: 3.00% 

May 26, 2022: 3.00% 

May 26, 2023: 3.00% 

May 26, 2024: 3.00% 

May 26, 2025: 3.25% 

May 26, 2026: 0%

As well as a $3,000 dollar signing bonus. Nice pattern. Are DC 37 members getting retro, and if so, will it be in one lump sum or spread out over 20 years? 

Several things have crossed my mind. Yes, inflation is high, but it is on its way down. So for now, at least for me, I have a wait and see. Of course we have Mike Mulgrew has our leader so he might think us getting less would be a great deal. 

As for the bonus, hey I am all for a bonus. But not for $3k. I want at least double. But Mulgrew is our leader. We're screwed. 

But the devil is in the details. We still don't know about healthcare. That is the most important part. I'm still of the mind that we have it pretty good as far as healthcare in comparison to our counterparts in the rest of the state. But I saw also saw this on James' blog and it is somewhat disconcerting. 

The unions owe the city $1 billion? Other than voting Mulgrew out what can be done? I have said it before put the burden on new and newer teachers. Also, combine all the welfare plans into one. Yes, the number of patronage jobs will be affected but I'm sure there are savings to be found. Heck, even Arthur put this idea about combining the Welfare Funds together...

I don't believe a consolidated Welfare Fund would be any less efficient than the one we already have. It would surely be a hell of an improvement over screwing our retirees.

But, we have Mike Mulgrew leading us. From behind. 

My predictions for the new contract?

We'll get 2 percent raise per year for the first four years, and then 2.1 percent for the fifth year. 

Instead of a $3k bonus like DC 37 received we will get a coupons worth $19.99 in savings to Applebee's that will only be valid on Mondays and Tuesdays.

We'll get retro but the payouts will be stretched through 2031. The rules will be the same but if you turn 65 before the retro is fully paid you are out of luck. 

Teachers will no longer receive letters to file. Instead teachers will be summarily executed. However, the families of the executed teachers shall receive full benefits. The union will say, "Hey, at least your next of kin will be getting paid."

DC 37 has no settled. The proverbial ball is now in Mulgrew's court to totally fuck it up.