Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Comcast Must Die!

Internet connection craptastic?
The Internet helped me get through some of the longest nights of my life.

I am only one voice, and I am only one person, but it helped me feel just a little connected to the human race.

During the silent hours in the dead of night, I can always find a voice to keep me company.

When there is no one listening, there is something to read. I found comfort in knowing that I was not completely alone in my krazy world.

There are so many others out who are forced into silence, and I need the Internet to feel connected to this world. When we live in a society that is completely fragmented and near broken beyond repair, I look toward the web for a place to connect.

The Digital Divide is bad enough. The United States is broken beyond repair. We need to move forward towards this e-volution. Please do not remove the one lifeline I have left to the outside world. There are so many people out there like me deserve to be heard.  Please Save The Internet.

Elyssa Durant 
Nashville, TN
Reality Bytes

Save the Internet Now!

Expose Fake Grass Roots Organizations: Net Neutrality Now

Friday, October 16, 2009

How Fraud & Abuse Contribute to the Health Care Crisis in America

DRAFT: For anyone who would like to know why I feel so strongly that any reform that does not address the issue of regulation, oversight and enforcement... perhaps my experience will serve as an example of how the judicial system fails to protect those who so desperately need help to fight injustice, inequity and corruption in the United States of America.

At twenty-two…

At 22 I was diagnosed with a degenerative spinal condition. Yes, there are times when the pain is so terrible, I cannot lifet myself out pf ed or tie my shoes. But far worse is having the knowledge that the level of damage to my spinal cord could have been stopped had I received adequate health care.

Yes, I had insurance. But who was there to make them pay???

14 years later, I finally received surgical intervention, and can feel my hands again-- and as a writer, that has been a miraculous gift.

Through the toughest times in my life, no one told me I was wasting my time and money on an education I would never be able to use.

After all I just wanted a diversion.

Even more disturbing than the damage to my spinal cord, is the realization that I missed mosre than 14 years of my life. So not only did I waste my time and money on an education I will never be able to use, I wasted a window of opportunity. A moment in time when I almost had a world the world at my fingertips.

Without any real place to go after college, I felt I had no other choice than to become a professional student of sorts—you know, the ones who stay in school forever to take advantage of cheap housing, health insurance, and student loans.

Unfortunately, I wandered aimlessly through the system acquiring useless knowledge and letters after my name that do not mean jack in the real world. But it distracted mye from the fact that my spinal cord continued to worsen my physical and emotional health.

So with no prosepects on the horizon-- and so thrilled thto feel my hands today, that the one thing I can do is write. So for now, I write, maybe tomorrow I'll read, but if there is any justice left in this world, maybe someday I will actually live.

Despite having four individual insurance policies including a major plan with Blue Cross Blue Shield for $1,000,000; I still wound up on Medicaid, and eventually welfare and social security with a total income of under $6,000 / year.

The insurance investigators ultimately ruled in my favor, however I was unable to collect any damages for two reasons: Although mandatory federal fines in the amount of $560,000 would require legal assistance and complicated civil litigation that would be timely, costly, and emotionally traumatic. Second, under federal law, grants immunity to ERISA plans: a type of group insurance that is totally untouchable due to federal preemption of state law that leaves the beneficiary without recourse or the ability to collect punitive damages under federal law,

Unfortunately, this was a very complicated case that involved unscrupulous attorneys that involved tax and insurance fraud, and has yet to be resolved despite the overwhelming evidence of fraud and the favorable ruling from the insurance department. It should also be notes that no criminal charges were ever brought against any of the participants, which s even more disturbing if you knew the history of the parties involved, some were arrested for RICO conspiracy, Tax Evasion, Embezzlement, Extortion, and wire fraud. One man actually shot himself in the head one month after the Insurance Dept. opened the investigation.

So one is dead, one got off on a technicality, one was acquitted, and several others were never prosecuted. I however, pay a price for their crimes every day of my life, I now live in a prison of sorts: a prison of poverty, and despair with no real expectation of change on the horizon.

So here are the facts

I recently learned that for the last 14 years, my parents have been using my social security number to claim as (1) an employee -- thus covered under an ERISA beneficiary plan that I have never been able to access and (2) was claimed as a dependent on my mother's NY State tax return for many years making impossible for me to file taxes or obtain insurance, disability benefits, or student financial aid since neither parent is willing to release a copy of their return.

I filed a complaint with the Pennsylvania Insurance Department in 1995, and received response six months after the policy had expired. Despite the considerable evidence I provided to the Insurance Dept. and Pennsylvania Blue Shield, I was told that despite the overwhelming evidence that I provided, the Insurance Dept. Did not have the authority to override the terms of the contract.

Since ERISA mandates that all beneficiaries (including insured dependents) be given a copy of the policy (among other forms of insurance identification, e.g., EOBs, Insurance ID C, and a copy of the policy, my requests for ERISA mandated materials were repeatedly denied until the Jason Manne from the Dept. of Public Welfare sent a letter to my insurance carrier to inform them that they in accordance with federal law, they must honor my request for a copy of the insurance policy.

The insurance Department came to the same conclusion: that my rights under federal law had been violated, but because this situation was unprecedented in the state of Pennsylvania, it took approximately 9 months before BCBS decided to send me the necessary documentation. In addition, my plan had expired, and BCBS refused to honor my request for COBRA continuation (which would have been extended from 18 months to 36 since I was disabled at the time of the qualifying event plan supporting my initial request for federally mandated information in accordance with ERISA 4236.

Blue Shield refused to honor my request for COBRA continuation and / or a reassignment of benefits so those providers could be reimbursed directly. According to their attorney, Tija Hilton-Phillips, they had no obligation to provide me with any information about COBRA continuation and shifted the burden of responsibility onto the plan administrator and/or fiduciary. In addition to having the terms of my policy falsified in writing, I was unable to identify the plan administrator of fiduciary. Since federal law requires that all plans be filed with the Dept. of Labor, I contacted them on multiple occasions and wrote several letters requesting a copy of claims made under the policy, the plan fiduciary, administrator, and the specific type of ERISA plan (e.g., self-insured) that was on filed in accordance with federal law. Again, my verbal requests were denied. I then sent a written request to the regional office in Philadelphia but again, received no response.

Washington requests in Washington in accordance with federal law. , e.g., self-insured, their assistance in (with information Furthermore, the Dept. of Labor requesting this information were never answered. I never found out the name of the plan administrator or the fiduciary, and was never offered COBRA continuation, and then BCBS refused to let me continue under COBRA, claiming they were not obligated to offer it to... so who is ultimately held accountable in these situations.

When I first filed this complaint against BCBS, each agency denied responsibility despite the overwhelming evidence that I had provided. Although I was only 22 at the time, I spent my days and nights reading up on insurance, labor and employment law, and subsequently came to believe that aside from violating my natural rights, I had been denied due process protections and requested legal assistance from advocacy organizations in New York, Pennsylvania and Tennessee. I was unable to find anyone who would take my claims seriously, and could not find anyone to take my case pro-bono or on contingency. Eventually, I moved to Nashville, TN and tried to recover from the physical injuries and the new emotional scars that left me cynical and bitter about a judicial system that consistently fails to enforce natural and human rights.

Everyone I spoken to thus far reiterates the same statement-- practically verbatim, "I sympathize with your dilemma, yet, as you know, our office does not have the jurisdiction to assist you in this matter."

I sought the assistance of an attorney at Shnaeder Harrison years ago (regarding Pennsylvania Act 62) and Jason Manne in the Dept. of Public Welfare.

Although I may be biased, I believe this case has substantial social merit and long standing implications for children in the state of Pennsylvania. I am a reputable witness, and have 5 years of doctoral studies under my belt in the field of social policy.

I have been unsuccessful in my search for a competent litigator (unfortunately, this is an unprecedented case that touches on all the hot issues before the 3rd circuit including ERISA and the State's interest in Equal Educational Opportunity and due process protections for children (and adults) who are "victimized twice... first by their parents, and then, again by a judicial system who fails to protect them" (it's been a while, but I believe that is a paraphrase of the dissenting opinion from Justice Montemuro in Curtis v. Klein.

In many ways, I feel it is too late for me to recover what I lost due to a snag in the law and a few loopholes in the system. I have collected evidence for over 14 years because I used to believe that justice might prevail.

If she has an interest in looking bold into the face of police corruption, I would like to share my story (and the documents) to be sure no other child in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania falls victim to such heinous crimes due to legal technicalities from an outdated piece of legislation. It has been 14 years since my case was “abandoned” by the state judicial system in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. It is time to have these loop holes closed for good and ensure equal protection under the law for all children—not just those who are lucky enough to have a fair hearing or be heard before they reach the age of majority.

With the support and inspiration, I received from some very kind and brilliant professors in sociology and social policy, plan to submit a book proposal to document the sequence of events that still astound me and curious onlookers who take a quick peek as they casually pass in and out of my life. You see, it is much like a traffic accident-- people like to take comfort in seeing the tragedy of a broken man and his family demonstrating the social injustices and inequity resulting from a stratified society where only "violent" criminals or those who commit acts that violate or impede the natural rights of others are not taken seriously by the judicial system or the public at large. Unaware of the consequences that arise from dual standards in the worst of academic snobbery and intellectual elitism -- living a lifestyle they might otherwise envy.

I would appreciate assistance in restoring my social security number and account so that I do not have live in constant fear. If that means either relocating to another country and/or having my name and social security number changed or restored, it is probably well worth the inconvenience if it means there is still hope for living a peaceful existence.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Masters of Media Manipulation

The first course I took as a grad student in New York City was a fabulous seminar in public journalism. on the 4th floor at the infamous J- School at Columbia University.

Located inside the cool steel gates separating us from  the reality the of poverty that surrounded the Uniersity just outside the campus gates on the Upper  West Side of Manahattan. Alumni calle it "Morningside Heights" but in reality it is just a few blocks from Harlem.

As they were trying to tweak our skills turning us into experts in public journalism or public relations. 

16th street from the homeless and the winos’ asking everyone all the passer by's for money just before we walked through the iron gates leading to the Ivory Tower.

We would pass the men living on the streets each day, enter through the solid stone doors that were 12 ft tall, and write about them. With such eloquence you would hardly know they were homeless at all. We exploited them. The blocks surrounding 116th-120th where only the young and the talented get ready to take their place in society.

Just like Tuskegee exploited the Blacks, and the Army exploits the young, we exploited the sick irony of paying more per credit than they earned in one year on Veterans benefits or disability. We disgust me.

Karma is a bitch, because less than two years later there I was, sleeping in the law school stacks; showering in the indoor pool... gym because I “looked good enough to pass through the gates.” I had that Ivy League pedigree. The would-have-been Harvard Law student—maybe even have had it paid in full had I been a boy or born to a different mother.

What the fuck did they know? That cute little Jewish Girl from Long Island, the one from a "good" family... the Harvard Legacy with the beautiful mother always dripping in jewels and fur from her latest boyfriend or husband—that little girl was me.

I should have been the perfect example of how a power player in the making the benefits from good breeding. No one ever needed to know that beneath it all I worked my ass off to get into College and ultimately get a scholarship into the top ranked program in Sociology and Social Policy to effect change. The fact that I dropped out of high school at 16 could remain my dirty little secret.

And to this day, no one has ever come forward to expose that little truth. Probably because so few people know—Maybe three or four So would I reveal such an embarrassing little detail of my life and risk my reputation on something I should have left behind me over twenty years ago?

Because it matters.

No one needed to know. I can get by well enough on my looks.  I speak quite eloquently, and usually appear normal "n.o.s." to most, but it is an important little factoid because people constantly judge ME based upon who they think I am – either the girl with the wealthy parents; too lazy too stupid or to get off welfare.

It matters because what appears to be and what is are often two very different things. I am in fact, an Ivy League Alumnus. I did in fact get a full scholarship into the PhD program in Public Policy at a leading University.

I am in fact unable to find employment.  

my entire and sole source of live of income is SSI (Supplemental Security Income) the lowest of the low.

I am so far beneath the poverty level (already ridiculous) that I often wonder how I manage to live at all.

what happened to that "legacy," the access I once had to the Ivory tower on the 4th floor we wrote is now gone. Not because they didn't like my work-- they loved it! Solid A in Public Journalism.

Well if I were in New York today, I would most likely be one of the people o the streets. Actually, I would probably be sitting across the street at the Bookstore just so I could stay close to the vast amounts of wisdom and philosophy within the hollowed halls as classes break for the summer. I would be watching people go in and out and be envious that they had the one thing that I don't: access.

So I made it through the very Same J-School where Pat Buchanan refused to speak to his Alma-mater because he once punched someone in the face on the 5th floor. I made it through despite the fact that I often times slept in my car in the middle of winter because I could not afford gas for the commute and eventually lost my apartment. I made it through having no electricity and frozen water pipes.

The question is: can I make it through this? I paid my dues. I deserve a chance. Dammit, I deserve a do-over. I deserve a job. I deserve a little credit.

Will our policy decision be based upon our need for reform or the ability to perform?

We used to joke about all the sell-out Journalist who give up on reporting the news to become speech writers for politicians. How people like Pat Buchanan (a J-School alum) became so skilled at using their words to sell ideas in such a way that people actually believed the propaganda they were spinning.

I have given much thought to this... the only people who are more arrogant and self serving than politicians and academics are reporters!

I think they become addicted to the their own power to manipulate people and they are willing to trade a little tarnished idealism for power and inflated self-esteem.

I am not one of those people. I care enough about the issues to take the time to examine them from all angles and I fell that the massive amount of money being spent by agencies that I hold in deep respect launching a counter-attack on the insurance companies and their ad execs will have serve to damage their reputation. I chose to volunteer with these agencies because I believe they are well informed and do a great job to involve the everyday average Americans like myself in the political process.

By spending $750,000 on advertising, these groups now seem to be on the same level as the Insurance Industry and others who exploit the poor and infirm at the mercy of the healthcare marketplace.

So I take issue with this campaign. Let Rick Scott be heard. Using such tactics will make the good guys no better than the Insurance Companies that exploit us all.  i take issue with all the FaceBook invitations and emails from candidates requesting a $10 donation I won't even miss-- really. hmmm... how you lived on $600 / month?  everybody does NOT have $10 too text to Haiti. some of do not have cable, television, or a even a telephone because can't have an "extra ten dollars" 

so how did i get here?  well, i would tell you, but at this toint it is completely irrelevant. what i do need is people. a community, a network... to stop decade. maybe to feel as if the pain i feel each and every i open my eyes, I am here only out of obligation. 

is that horrible to say? maybe? am i closer today than I ws one year ago? who I have new ideas for tomorrow? no.  i don't gaive a shit. 

i simply do not care.

there is no amount of joy or hope go a better tomorrow that would make today feel like any less of a chore... and I will be tomorrow knowing what do and how it ends. 

do you hea what i am saying? did  I stutter?

i hear birds chirping.  wow. i actually mafe it through deep hours of night when i had nothing to say write or communicate. 

but i hear the birds and some things I would like to read edit publish, i don't know...  i don't to "blog" about my post adolescent misery... it disgusts me.  so i'm going take a few minutes for cuddles with Spotty and to try to takek a few deep breaths. 

my right hand cold, so I can't  say much more anymore for right now... so another... and night... another diversion... reality bytes.

i am grieving. i am grieving for the loss of a future that will never be.  i am not okay. i will never be "okay" and no matter times you shove that down my throat, the bottom line is that my life is so empty that even if i knew it would be tomorrow, the past was so b that from it would keep from ever knowing inner peace and hapiness.  it is not in me. totally gone. forever. whooooosh..... 3/17/2010

so back these ads showing us from big meia: how to reform or how to perform?

The large amount of funds being thrown (public or private) being spent on media fluff, and emotional being spent on media propaganda and 'skittles' on both sides of the healthcare debate.

I am offended by the huge amounts of money being spent on propaganda and skittles by both sides of the healthcare debate. Excessive, exorbitant monies being spent to manipulate the public through misleading ads, expert analyses, media alerts~ this is insulting at best.

Real dollars being used to manipulate the public about real issues: the sick; the poor; the ignorant...we are selling bad data and information to those who need it the most.  Making promises we can't keep and giving false hope to des[erate for change they can believe in... do you? I don't.

Talk about adding insult to injury? I do hope HCAN, HealthJustice and others will reconsider this campaign. I am one foot soldier who is unwilling to participate in this one.

Bottom line is this: we need to stop manipulating images and perceptions about the reality of healthcare, education, and social welfare in the United States. All is not well in America. Not well at all.  And I am here to prove it!

Elyssa Durant, Ed.M.
United States of America

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Roof is On Fire

The APPEAL had given me for the thirteen months I actually believed somebody was listening. WRONG AGAIN! That false strength I kept in reserve to keep going was the part of me that needed to believe that I haven't lost everything. It gave a false sense that somebody was actually listening.


So listen carefully, my friends. It was not too long ago that I had almost everything a young person needs to succeed in this world.

Or maybe not.

As for my most current insurance dispute... I feel that I have done everything humanly possible to be sympathetic towards health care provider who is NOT providing care. I cannot sacrifice my own well being for every bright eyed bushy tailed wanna be who is too stupid to see that I am far from.

I had such a battle this week. It culminated in the end like every other battle I have taken on. I only won because ultimately but we are all losing.

For every underqualified, health care provider who has NOT provided the adequate, there are many more like me. Alienated just enough to give up on fashion, etiquette and social norms; but not enough to walk away from it all.
We are keeping watch. We are taking names, and I for one do not give a rat's ass about "keeping the peace."

Having been on both sides if the proverbial couch, I have the perspective is both enlightening and scary at the same time.

I look back and want to say shout "told you so" from the nearest roof top.

Crazy is crazy does... out loud. I may be enjoying this just a little too much.

Sometimes I try to look at this fight, (I meant to say this life) objectively.

I can see my own future, and I can see where it is taking me. I know how it will end if I don't keep up the pace.

It is amazing at how far we will go to have nothing at all.

I have come this far, and on some level I almost enjoy the dance. No. On some level, I actually love the dance.

But then there are days like this.

Because without this turmoil, this exercise in futility, absurdity, government waste, bureaucracy, irreverent disregard for basic human kindness, decency and humanity-- and all long to go to the kind of place I hear about ain Fairy Tales .

He speaks of a place called Neverland.  You see, I don't know the story of Peter Pan, Captain Hook, and I have no idea who Wendy is. Of course I've heard of Tink (though I hear she is a pain in the ass ;) but only because I like glitter pens and fairy dust. I don't know these things, because I don't know the innocence, the purity, the make believe world of childhood. I never had one.

I knew cruelty... and though I am not cruel, this is who I am at this very moment: Dark, discouraged, and deeply disappointed.

What if this is all that there is for me? If I can never break free from this cycle of insanity, and trust me when I say the insanity I speak of is NOT in my head. We have all heard the expression insanity is the sane response to insane surroundings; let me assure that there are very few cases that rival mine. I am the stuff psychologists, sociologists, and the occult speak of behind closed doors. My sister and I were raised this way. She may be a lawyer, she may have good credit, she may have a lot of things, but while my father took me to see the same shrink that treated Danton, Milken, Masrtronardo and more, he took her to see a psychiatrist who specialized in serial killers.

So I wonder, and you should too... did he take us there to be healed or did he take us there to create our futures? I will never be good enough for him. Thank god jesus allah and the power invested in this little stupid wifi device... his vision of us, his vision of U.S. is wrong.

I know this now. I didn't know then. I have proof now. I hardly even need it. It all out in the open and I am glad. Never again should the FBI create hatred, men so indoctrinated by power that they have such little regard for human life that they treat their children the same way they treated John Africa and the thirteen members of MOVE the day the Powers That Beat decided it was long overdue to take John Africa out. So what if thirteen people died with him... who cares about the 5 children who died alog with him?

The roof, the roof, the roof is on fire. We don't need no water let the mother fucker burn,  Burn, mother fucker, burn. 

And they did.  And they died. May 13, 1985.

Burned forever in my mind, and it should be in yours too. OUR COUNTRY. OUR PEOPLE. OUR GOVERNMENT.

FUCK YOU AMERICA! FUCK THE US FOR FUCKING US ALL!  And thank you daddy, for letting me in on the secret.  Now what? 

What else would call if not the City of Brotherly Love? ON A MOVE...

I do. Because my daddy told me to shoot them ya know... just in case. Daddy lost his first and only trial and the CITY of Philadelphia decided it was time to take him out.

No. I won't give up now. I could be next! (As I laugh my fucking ass off!!!!!)

What if I have nothing left? What if the Hook does NOT bring me back?

This demonstration and project in futility and determination has defined me for so long, that without it, I'm not sure if I am anything at all.
fuck that... yeah... Reality Bytes. But I won't play dead, and I won't pretend my name is not Elyssa Danielle Durant. My Daddy changed his, my gold-digging bitch of a mother changed her name 5 times, now with $250K invested in it, her face and her body are quite lovely too.

Mumia is STILL on death row. The 39th District is corrupt to the core. The MAYOR dropped the bomb. May 13, 1985. No longer sealed, and I am no longer hiding, Now I know, why my life stopped when it was about to start. I know the truth, and the feds know I'm certifiable. So you decide...

~~~~~this where I must break~~~ all in due time my friends~~~~

I can't lose what I never had. I won’t be another sell-out... mostly because I don't know how.

I am then the voice of perseverance. I am one voice of perseverance. I am one of 47 million Americans. And today I am I am still fighting the good fight.

This battle; this challenge; this half won war this fight has come to define me. And without that, I am not really much of anything at all...

As someone once told me, if you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything. I've already fallen, but I sure as shit stand for something.

" for now, I write. Maybe later read.  I am always listening. But if there is any justice left in this world, maybe someday, I might actually live."

That's a;; for now, folks. I think I'll tweet a bit.  I think I've earned it the right to play a little.  Can't go anywhere anyway.  License suspended (thanks again dad! You can manage to moved 1.3 million dollars into two separate trusts within one hour of TRO, but you it takes 22 days to hand over the $4.50 I needed to avoid eviction and 6 months homelessness?)  

You must be so proud. I'm finally doing you ordered me to do long ago. Fighting for myself, because you made it clear you will never do it for me.  Lesson learned. Bring it on. Again.  This time I know what t expect.

Elyssa Durant
Nashville, Tennessee

[Parts previously posted at United Professionals under: An Appalling Appeal]