Getting beyond the red tape

brain scan

Jonathan Detlef thought being laid off from the company where he had worked in sales for 10 years was as bad as it could get.

Then he fell behind on the mortgage and lost his house. Little wonder that he had started waking up with headaches and even felt dizzy and off balance. When he was offered another job, he thought the worst was over—until his local doctor insisted that he go for tests. Within days, doctors at Emory’s Winship Cancer Institute began fighting an aggressive brain tumor.


Charity Care

Family away from home

Getting beyond the red tape

Getting to graduation

Small costs in large numbers

No one else to ask

Winship social workers fought a different battle. Unable to work and uninsured, with his resources depleted from unemployment, Detlef started receiving help from Medicaid. When Social Security Disability Insurance kicked in, however, Medicaid bowed out because his income was then too high. Medicaid also decided to stop payments to Mrs. Detlef, something the family challenged with help from the Cancer Legal Initiative Program offered through the Atlanta Legal Aid Society. His application for Medicaid Spend Down (a program in which the patient pays a certain percentage of his/her income before Medicaid begins to pay) was also delayed.

Lost in the red tape yet? The social workers had seen this scenario before, and they knew where to turn within Emory Healthcare. Detlef’s case was classified as “charity care,” meaning that Emory would forgive his medical bills, an enormous load off the family’s mind. When drug companies refused to help with one of the expensive medications he required, it was covered by the Winship Cares Patient Assistance Program, which also provided the family with debit cards for gas and groceries. Emory’s unreimbursed costs continued to rise, but that was not what was front of mind at Emory as Detlef’s condition worsened. The social work team referred the family to the Jack and Jill Late Stage Cancer Foundation, which helped the Detlefs plan a family trip, while the medical team worked to buy Detlef the time he needed to be able to take it.


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