My bad, really, in not beginning that letter to the NYS Attorney General’s office with an unmissable disclaimer: THIS IS NOT A BILLING COMPLAINT.
No wonder that a healthcare-related letter, complaining of the lack of any sort of government agency to resolve health insurance-related problems NYS patients have in New York State, would be dropped promptly on to the Healthcare billing dispute desk of the A.G.’s office. My letter, foolishly, began:
Dear Mr. Attorney General:
I am appealing to you for assistance, on behalf of many thousands of New Yorkers caught in a sometimes life-threatening situation regarding their healthcare. As described more fully below, citizens of our state have no government agency that intervenes in cases where patients are mistreated by the corporations we buy health insurance from. This is true even in cases of apparent fraud.
An idiotic idealism had me send it, for myself and on behalf of other people many Americans believe are lucky to have any health insurance at all– and who are in danger of losing the shit care they currently have. I am not a campaign donor, or an Ivy League classmate of anyone close to the A.G., why would I expect my letter to reach such an important man? If I was a wealthy, connected person, what would possess me to write such a letter in the first place? Not being one, what did I fucking expect? Perhaps anything but the mistaken response I received:
But still. And although the letter is non-responsive to anything in my letter, it is easily enough straightened out. I could do it in couple of lines:
Dear Mr. Bockstein:
Thank you for your prompt reply to my long letter to the Attorney General, though it was clearly sent to me in error. My correspondence did not involve a billing dispute (though one section contained examples of a couple), and I never heard of St. Joseph’s Physicians or Oneida Healthcare, let alone had a billing dispute with either of them. Please transfer my letter, and the attachments, to the assistant for Mr. Schneiderman who reviews policy-related correspondence. Or let me know to whom I should address a new copy, to avoid a similar fate to copy number two.
Thank you, and have a blessed day.
No need to point out the obvious irony to the overworked Mr. Bockstein — that his idiotic ‘response’ to my letter is yet another stunning example of the administrative cul du sac I described in my letter as so infuriating and soul crushing to aggrieved low income patients of New York who have no government agency protecting them from the predations of the health insurance companies they are mandated to purchase healthcare through.
Or that bureaucratic responses such as his are particularly dangerous to patients being treated for serious major organ disease and already suffering treatment-related extreme high blood pressure. When your blood pressure is dangerously close to hypertensive crisis range, a letter like that, though polite, is the last fucking poison you need. Although it is good for me to keep in mind that the preventable death of an American who is not at least middle class is, as the law styles it, a trifle, truly. Nothing personal.
I rest my case, Mr. Bockstein. I’d make an idle threat to rest it in a venomous letter to the editor of the Grey Skank, but we all know how silly that would be to threaten. Theoretically, a tart letter to the editor quoting the AG’s response would momentarily embarrass your boss, who appears to be one of the few good guys, and who is tirelessly making a good name for himself with clear future ambitions. On the other hand, a short description of the callous, or at best, inept, functioning of his progressive office would only serve to provide more ammunition to the powerful and well-funded forces of reaction bent on returning this country to its former greatness.
I am left idly threatening to unearth my Louisville slugger, Joe Pepitone model. And fiercely pointing out that I can be up in Albany in the time it takes Mr. Bockstein to crank out a few dozen of these fine letters, man of peace and reason though I always aspire to be. At the same time urging Mr. Bockstein, for purely legal reasons, not to construe this as any kind of physical threat– I mutter it mildly and abstractly, for expressive purposes only, through a haze of monoclonal antibody side effects. Though, even in my asthenic state, I recognize that, truly, the many vexations of Americans with a low income, even the most theoretically easily preventable vexations, are strictly their own affair and attributable only to their poor choices in life.