A Kafka-esque Catch 22 Keeps Kini Seawright Off the AHCCCS Rolls, Thanks to Governor Brewer and the State Legislature

When it comes to the war on the poor in Sand Land, I have little faith that the cruelty toward the less fortunate evidenced by our ruling Republican junta ever will be avenged.

Governor Jan Brewer, state Senate President Russell Pearce, their puppet-maestro, Chuck Coughlin of HighGround Public Affairs, and all the rest of that ilk have furthered their political careers, in part, by denying the unemployed a federal extension of their benefits and by whacking 110,000 childless single adults off the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, the state's Medicaid program, regardless of need.

That's 110,000 for 2012. Ultimately, the number will be more than twice that.

On the AHCCCS tip, this crowd claims the cuts have helped balance the budget. Which is a sad joke. Through gimmickry and tricks, they've rolled over the debt 'til next year, when they'll have to deal with it all over again.

Only the pending November 8 recall of Pearce, a man who has spent his entire career in the government's employ despite his hatred of same, offers promise of payback.

Meanwhile, the poor and the middle class suffer and the state's unemployment rate inches higher. Even if Pearce falls, his legacy and the work of his allies will have done their damage.

One of those harmed by the Brewer/Pearce/Coughlin cuts is Kini Marie Seawright.

Seawright, 45, suffers from diabetes and spinal stenosis/degenerative disc disease. She is in constant pain and has difficulty sleeping at night. Some days, she can get out of the house, but most of the time, she is confined to it. Often simply being on her feet is too much for her.

Until last year, Seawright was gainfully employed, working at Alcoa, and making about $16 per hour. But her world went into a tailspin when her only son, Dana, was brutally beaten down in prison, the result of a hit put on him by the West Side Crips, one of the gangs that effectively control Arizona's penal institutions.

As you might expect, Seawright was engulfed by horror and depression. Visions of her child, whom she last saw on his deathbed at Saint Joseph's Hospital, haunted her. Her work and her health suffered, and she ended up losing her job as a result.

She had an apartment in Chandler with a little long-haired Chihuahua named Joe as her only dependent. Initially, she was able to pull unemployment and was covered by AHCCCS. After paying her bills, she was broke but able to survive, barely.

In May, the Arizona Department of Economic Security cut off her AHCCCS. The reason? She made too much on unemployment to qualify. You know, on $240 per week.

Not long after, the DES informed her that her unemployment was about to run out. That's when I first heard of her situation through prisoner-rights advocate Peggy Plews. She knew Seawright because of a federal lawsuit Seawright's attorney brought against Arizona for negligence in her son's murder.

The attorney is keeping the lawsuit alive pro bono, BTW.

It seemed odd to me that Seawright's unemployment would run out so soon. So I called the DES' spokesman, Steve Meissner. He said he could not comment on Seawright's case but told me he would alert the appropriate person as to her situation.

By this time, Seawright had fallen behind on her rent. Her landlord had been as obliging as possible, but she had to move.

Though Plews is on disability herself and runs her Arizona Prison Watch blog on PayPal donations out of her tiny apartment in Phoenix, she took in Seawright and her pup and began paying for Seawright's medicine, which costs about $250 a month.

To do this, Plews took out loans. Her friends helped out, passing the hat at get-togethers.

After my call, the DES contacted Seawright, telling her the unemployment checks would continue after a brief pause. She eventually received a letter telling her she had $4,044 remaining in unemployment compensation.

That was in early July. When Plews and Seawright informed me of the letter, I figured I'd done my Boy Scout good deed for the year.

I was deeply mistaken. On August 5, the DES sent Seawright a letter informing her that she was not eligible for unemployment insurance.

Get this: because she's disabled. That's right — her doctor will not certify her for work. And since she cannot work or even look for a job, she can't get unemployment.

Meanwhile, Seawright appealed the AHCCCS decision. But the DES told her no dice. Though she'd been without unemployment, she didn't qualify under the new law, passed by the state Legislature and signed by Governor Brewer, axing benefits to adults with no dependents.

I called Meissner back about the Kafka-esque Catch 22 Seawright found herself in. He told me what I already knew: The DES doesn't make the rules; it just applies them.

What about the letter saying Seawright had four grand coming to her? Barred from commenting directly, Meissner could only speculate.

"Sometimes we think something is appropriate, and upon further review by someone else, it's found that it's not," he offered.

Seawright is a proud woman, and she does not want to rely on the charity of Plews or others. Her anxiety level grows higher with each passing day.

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18 comments
CJOK555
CJOK555

This woman needs to take responsibility for herself. She is making choices, to be a taker and not a giver. Her health is issue she needs to address herself. I do not want to pay for her drugs. If her child was in prision then what did he do? He could have been at work helping her instead of getting in trouble. If she wants to play I am so sick route then she is not eligible for unemployment because she is not really looking for work. Get up get to work, exercise, get healthy and get yourself ready to work. I do not want to pay benefits for someone else, take care of your own ship.

Steegan
Steegan

"Arizona is a hateful place. I can already imagine the abusive comments this story will draw. I hesitated to write about it for this reason."

What kind of comment is this? How ignorant can you get? Just because someone has a different viewpoint from you doesn't make them a hater. Personally, I worked at AHCCCS for two years and saw tons of abuse and adults perfectly capable of working paying $1 copays to see the doctor while the rest of us deal with the rising cost of health care.

I'm sure this is one of those "hateful" comments but if this woman wants to control her diabetes, she needs to lose some weight. There are plenty of things you can do without prescription medication to improve your health. Taxpayers are sick of paying health care costs for people addicted to cheetos. We are all struggling right now. I grew up in Arizona and I'm proud to call it home, even for people with different opinions than my own.

Jason
Jason

What surprises me the most is that Alcoa either did not or would not offer Ms. Seawright some type of long-term medical disability package due to her medical conditions.

Also, I am surprised that Alcoa would not offer Ms. Seawright time off to grieve the loss of her son. His beating death was cold, callous, and so unnecessary.

While I am of limited means, I will see what I have available to donate. I think I can come up with $10 or $20. I just need an address where to send the money.

Solarhiker1
Solarhiker1

Things are tough all over. In nature, the strong survive. In a democratic society the strong survive to take care of the weak until they have nothing left to give. Oboingo's failled presidency has made it harder for the strong to take care of the weak.

Elvis Costello also said, 'One more widow, one less white nigger'.

Kpegjer94
Kpegjer94

Brewer and her stubby little lap dog Pierce will one day get theirs know that is little consolation BUT is there is really a God in heaven THOSE TWO WILL BE SHOVELING COAL IN HELL FOR ETERNITY

restitutiontouscitizensfirst!
restitutiontouscitizensfirst!

Totally agree with you on this one here. AHCCCS IS KAFKA-eque for sure. Local & national governments for that matter although my reading tells me it's pretty much nationwide these days. Hope she gets her SSDI. It is still not enough and of course disqualifies you for help with your Rx because even though SSDI is not enough for a rental anywhere you are suddenly considered so wealthy that you are automatically disqualified for other help in my experience. Also, something nobody wants to touch, would prefer to scoff with disbelief, any type of old age disability social security recipient is targeted for rip-off scams by the TBTF bankster cartels - constantly unrelentingly hoping that you run out of resources to fight them - which often entails multiple physical visits weekly, which for those that are housebound or too ill to take public transit - that in itself becomes insurmountable so the crooks get away with targeting the most vulnerable. Whatever, plenty of working folk often take their paycheck to Walmart and exchange it for a 3$ debit card - lots cheaper than the unexpected things banks do to you these days. But Social Security checks are not eligible for that Walmart program. It is open season on Social Security recipients.

AZ Dem
AZ Dem

Has she filed for SSDI? (Social Security Disability Insurance) That could be the answer. It is also possible for SSDI recipients to do an end run around AHCCCS and get on the Medicare rolls. The process is long and complicated, but it is possible.

StephenLemons
StephenLemons

Kini did apply and was initially turned down. But she is now in the appeals process. Our fingers are crossed. In the meantime she and Peggy need all of our help.

Amy
Amy

The real criminals are in the state house. They poison this beautiful place with their hideous, cruel, immoral laws. A truly great society would protect and support its people in need.

Anon
Anon

Amy, Well said.

Mistalee
Mistalee

"Compassionate conservatism" strikes again.

Consider the fact that what is befalling Seawright would not happen in any other developed nation. The increasingly dire plights of the elderly, the disabled, and children in this nation are a clear indicator that the USA's status as a first-world country is rapidly deteriorating.

JesusHChrist
JesusHChrist

Arizona's about as politically and socially advanced as Guatemala in the Fifties. It's leaders are criminals who belong in jail.

JesusHChrist
JesusHChrist

Sorry, "Its," not "It's." This place is starting to rub off on me.

Coz
Coz

Arizona SUCKS !

Solarhiker1
Solarhiker1

Then change things for the better or leave. Preferably the latter.

Concerned Citizen
Concerned Citizen

There are no words to describe the evil that controls the state of Arizona. A pure living Hell. One day these elected officials playing God with peoples' lives will get their day.

Concerned Citizen
Concerned Citizen

There are no words to describe the evil that controls the state of Arizona. A pure living Hell. One day these elected officials playing God with people's lives will get their day.

 
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