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Monday, May 27, 2013

Update on Sunday, May 26th, 2013

Update on Ben Wolverton

Today is the 55th day since Ben fell off of his longboard.

I'm down in Saint George today. Ben's older brother, Spencer, is getting ready to go on a mission, and gave a farewell talk at church. So Mary and I came down for that, and met with perhaps 80 guests at an open house while Ben stayed with his sister up in Salt Lake (a distance of about 300 miles, for those who aren't familiar with the area).

Ben has the day off from therapy, so he went with his sister Lola to a local mall. We are trying to get Ben up and moving as much as possible, so that we can practice his skills with a walker, wheelchair, or just walking. Even keeping him up for a few hours will help strengthen his back and shoulders, which grew quite weak while he was in a coma.

Several people have asked how it is going with Ben's medicaid and social security. I got a notice that Ben had been denied Medicaid and Social Security yesterday, though another document requested more information from the hospitals for Social Security, and a third requested more info about Ben in order to determine his eligibility for Social Security.

I'm a bit confused. I'll sort through the info tomorrow and fill out the questionnaires.

This will take months to sort out, I suspect. We are dealing with three hospitals, so far, along with neurosurgeons, pediatric care specialists, anesthesiologists, life flight operators, x-ray techs, and so on. We don't have much in the way of initial bills--only the first $100,000, though I know that one of the hospital bills is close to a million, while another should be around $100,000.

I expect that we make too much money to qualify for Medicaid. As I understand the guidelines, it won't cover a family that makes more than $30,000 per year.

I also don't expect to get anything from Social Security for Ben.

We do have a program in Utah that Ben might qualify for--the Traumatic Brain Injury Waiver Program--which is supposed to cover children who are uninsured who get brain injuries. But whether Ben will qualify is unclear. I've heard that the program frequently runs out of money, so even if Ben gets accepted, I've been told that it might take three years before it kicks in and pays off his bills.

If that doesn't work, the hospitals are "charitable hospitals" and have a "pay-down" program which will let them forgive part of your debt, once they see what your income is. So we may be able to get part of our hospital bills forgiven, but we don't know yet. The truth is, I don't see that the hospitals have any incentive to be lenient. Even if they are, we will owe piles of money to individual doctors, and I'm not sure if we can successfully negotiate with fifteen entities at once.

So, we're checking all of our options. We're hoping that Ben will be released from the hospital in a week or two, but once he's released, we still have outpatient care to look forward to.

Here is Ben today, with his sister Lola, drinking frozen desserts at the mall. Ben is looking a bit "clearer" and more focused every day.