Bil Browning

Happy Birthday to me from Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels!

Filed By Bil Browning | October 10, 2008 3:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: disability benefits, disability payments, entitlement programs, Governor Daniels, Indiana, John McCain, Medicare, Mitch Daniels

I woke up Wednesday morning to a nice birthday greeting on Facebook from Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels' re-election campaign.

Mitch-Daniels-Facebook.jpgSubject: Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday from the Mitch for Governor Campaign and good luck in the future!

-the Mitch Team

But then in the afternoon via snail mail, I got a present from the Governor! Keep in mind, Daniels is one of John McCain's earliest supporters and was the budget director for BushCo who claimed the war in Iraq would only cost a handful of pocket change.

What was the present? I'll give you a hint. He's a Republican; it wasn't a good present.

I've mentioned before that I'm bipolar and get disability payments; every month I get $1012 for my bipolar disorder. While John McCain was on stage at Tuesday night's debate saying that he wanted to freeze entitlement programs like my disability payments, Governor Daniels was one step ahead of him. He didn't "freeze" my benefits, he effectively lowered them.

The letter I got in yesterday's mail didn't come from Daniels' campaign or his office. Instead, it came from BushCo's Social Security Administration Office of Central Operations. Knowing that George W gave Daniels his nickname of "The Blade," I should have known what the letter said; the Blade has cut again.

The State of Indiana will no longer pay your Medicare medical insurance premiums after September 2008. You must pay the premiums beginning October 2008.

What We Will Pay And When

  • You will receive $819.60 for October 2008 around November 3, 2008.
  • After that you will receive $916.00 on or about the third of each month.

Information About Medicare

Any additional premiums due will be deducted from your check.

To Cancel This Insurance

If you want to cancel this insurance, please contact the local Social Security office at the telephone number and address shown below. Remember that the date your insurance coversage ends depends on when you cancel it.

For those of you following along at home, that's a decrease of $96 each regular month - a 9.5% cut. The first month - this month - it's a decrease of $192.40 - a 19% cut for October (the same month I'm getting this letter after they made the decision in September).

Just to put this in perspective, my Medicare has a $500 deductible - I have to pay that much before the feds start shelling out for my medical bills. After that, I have to pay 20% of my bills. My prescription plan, however, is a good one. I never pay more than $5 for a refill. (Which is really good, actually. One medication alone is about $600 each refill!)

So far this year, I've paid out a little over $1000 in medical bills. I imagine I'll wrack up about another $150 by the end of the year. If we extrapolate this out:

2009 disability payments: $12,144.00
2009 medical payments by me: $2,398.40
Percentage of medical costs in 2009 from medical disability payments: 19.7%
US poverty level for a single person: $10,400
My 2009 disability income after medical costs deducted: $9745.60

But the kicker? We are a family of three - not one. When you add in Jerame's paycheck our household income increases, obviously. His pay knocks us out of the running to qualify for food stamps or any other program to assist low income households.

Daniels Reduces My Family Income Even Lower

Governor Daniels privatized Indiana's social services agency; he literally sold it to an outside company and contracts with them to provide claim verification and approvals. When he did, it suddenly became a lot harder for people to qualify and the time to actually get any benefits has increased. With the Indiana economy in the tank already, more and more Hoosiers are applying for unemployment benefits, food stamps and welfare.

We were on food stamps until Jerame graduated college and got a job. As soon as he got his paycheck though, the state booted us from the food stamp program and kicked our daughter off of the state-sponsored children's health program. We gained $170 in food costs and Paige is now without any form of insurance. Jerame hasn't had insurance the entire ten years we've been together; his job doesn't offer it. We're desperately trying to find some sort of coverage for the two of them; he's had an unresolved health issue for a year now and she was in therapy and on medication.

Our medical costs have shot up exponentially this year. Our income, while rising due to Jerame's new job, actually decreased when you add in the extra costs we've now incurred due to Mitch "The Blade" Daniels' mandated policies and privatization schemes.

Birds of a Feather: Mitch Daniels, John McCain and George Bush

John McCain has repeatedly said that he would continue the Bush financial policies of reducing taxes on the rich and passing the burden to the middle class. Mitch "The Blade" Daniels wasn't just George W. Bush's budget director, he also had some financial scandals in Indiana before moving to Washington.

Daniels sold $1.4 million dollars worth of shares in Indianapolis Power and Light Company shortly before the company was sold and the stock lost half of their value. Retirees' pensions - full of IPALCO stock - were torpedoed. Daniels sat on the IPALCO board and knew dumping the stock was the only way to keep his cash; he sold it to the IPALCO pension fund. The board then refused to let the pension fund divest of IPALCO stock.

It was referred to as "Indiana's Enron." Employees and retirees lost $95 million. Board members made millions.

The Keating Five scandal ringing a bell to anyone? Or maybe BushCo's need to rob the national treasury of billions of dollars to bailout Wall Street?

With Friends Like These


Allow me to extend my most sarcastic "Thank you!" to these three Republican robbers.

George Bush, thank you for overseeing one of the largest financial crisis in American history. Your history of corporate giveaways and shoveling cash to your friends has resulted in abject poverty for many of Americans.

Thank you, John McCain, for your history of deregulation and blind allegiance to the BushCo losing financial scheme to benefit rich friends and corporations. When you pandered to Americans by "suspending" your campaign and claiming success for brokering a deal that helped so much the legislation failed, it really helped my family's rising food and medical costs.

A hearty, "Thanks Guv!", to Indiana's Mitch Daniels for reducing me to below poverty level, but cheerfully sending me a Facebook birthday greeting from your re-election campaign the same day. The next time I go to the doctor, I'll be sure to think of that greeting.

Of course, I'll also be thinking about why I'm voting for Jill Long Thompson for Governor and Barack Obama for President.

(If you'd like to give me a birthday present, please donate to Jill Long Thompson's campaign. She's pulling even in the polls, but she's out of money to run TV ads the last month of the campaign!)

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S Brian Walters | October 10, 2008 3:29 PM

Funny how you're a "family" when it's to their advantage.

Yeah, the income counts for food stamps, but the love doesn't for hospital visitation. Funny, isn't it?

That really sucks, Bil.

And on a larger policy note, is meds for bipolar folks really where we want to be making budget cuts? It doesn't seem to be the best place to start....

I'll second Alex, that really blows. What a great present for your birthday. (/snark)

He's such a thoughtful man, isn't he? Full of warmth and compassion. Just makes you want to name some newly-discovered poisonous lizard after him.

Hey Bil,

I'm sorry you're going through this. I'd like to think the guv's reading this and cringing, but probably not. Anyway, I'm glad you called him out publicly on his (the state's) hypocrisy.

Sorry to have whined on about my own issues. This puts things in perspective. I'm in a constant state of shock over how we let the health care system get to this point.

Happy F'ing Birthday Bil. The guy just keeps sticking it to the people who need help the most.
How does a man who for most of the last 4 years have an approval rating below 45%, mucked up the FSSA so bad that the federal government had to step in, presided over a unemployment rate not seen in twenty years even have a shot at getting reelected.
All sarcasm aside I hope you were able to have a nice birthday.

David Myers | October 11, 2008 8:00 AM

Bill this is just like being married legally is it not. Many straight folks who get married are in the same boat. When one income is to high to meet the guidelines, they have pay for what they get. You can’t have your cake and eat it too as the old saying goes.

But Bil isn't married, so it's all the downsides without the benefits.

I do think that it's interesting that they count Jerame's income when it comes to your aide, Bil. They're recognizing two cohabiting people as a family even if they're not married? I thought that was impossible!

Seriously, considering how much conservatives whine about anything besides a legal marriage, a blood relative, or an adopted kid being recognized as family, or as an important relationship at all, when it comes to insurance benefits, hospital visitation, etc., I'm surprised that they aren't jumping up and down over this one!

It almost seems like the movement to restrict government recognition of relationships to heterosexual marriage had nothing to do with protecting the sanctity of those relationships at all...

David Myers | October 12, 2008 6:36 AM

It is not if you are married. They ask for "total household income" I think you may have insulted Bill on this one. Just ask him if he believes that he is married or not.

Bil I know your pain I just had to go through a re certification process (and am still not done) for food stamps and medicare/caid (still waiting on SSI) because good old Mitchy boy decided to have all local records boxed up and shipped to a warehouse in Indy to never be seen again.

And so now what should be readily accessible documentation and history has no meaning or precedent what so ever. Plus Dog (backwards) forbid that a local agent would have better discretion than a person sitting behind a cubicle 120 miles away would, as far as someone eligibility and personal circumstances. And another thing, pray they dont find out about any small business ventures or community/political activism they will try to label that as paid employment as well.

They also dont like it when you try to maintain some of your past endeavors and accomplishments or attachments when you were healthier because they will try to go after them too.

I was debating about posting something on this next week on my personal blog, but your post just rekindled my inner woman's tirade on this poor mismanagement by Mitch Daniels' Administration, stay tuned.

Wondering About You | October 11, 2008 10:10 PM

Wondering why you don't just get a job and earn more money instead of living off disability.

You obviously dont understand the nature of the disorder Bil suffers from. And as for myself, I cant work in traditional environments because of the nature of my illness, Heart Failure and Renal Failure stage 4.

I am still active in the local community and contribute to make this community a better place to live; however I can not stand for more than twenty minutes or sit for longer than an hour and a half at most and after four-six hours I have to pass out so my body can heal and flush itself. Tell me what job is out there besides an occasional freelance job that will allow me to work
1. Any four hour period of the day that I am able
2. Will allow me to rest when ever necessary
3. Doesn't require me to wear shoes, due to swelling.
4. Is willing to pay me a fair market wage so I can survive
5. And is work that wont bore the crap out of me.

You can make your snide accusations and blanket cover statements all that you want The fact of the matter is that between my first heart failure and my second one I was working part time, still on a limited basis, but it in fact contributed to my second heart failure.