From 1983 to 1993 I lived in several nursing homes in the Minneapolis Minnesota area.  Originally, I was only going to be in a nursing home for 6 months at the very most as I found an apartment.  But very quickly I became a victim of Medicaid fraud that for 9 years no one would listen to me and help me stop.

This is how it happened.  Because of my disability, I appear far more disabled than I really am.  So when the nursing home staff did the paperwork for the State, they put down that I needed 24 hour care, couldn't lift over 5 pounds, never got out of bed, and never recorded when I came and went.  Since no one ever went over the paperwork, Medicaid paid the nursing homes $4000.00 a month for care that I never got.

The truth was, my day started at 11:00 in the morning.  I would leave the home to go downtown and street sing for 4 hours each day to save money both for equipment and for an apartment.  From there I went to the library where I sat at a table and programmed music.  At around 7:00 P.M. I met up with friends for dinner who would help me eat.  At 9:00 P.M. I went to a piano lounge where I sang using my communication device.  At 12:00 at night I went to AAHS World Radio where I recorded commercials and sometimes I went live on the air for a few minutes just for fun.  At 3:00 A.M. I went back to the nursing home and wend to bed.  And at 11:00 the next morning I did the same thing all over again.  Plus I had jobs from time to time, I was on Television doing telethons, and I was always doing something.  And if I didn't feel like going back to the nursing home, I would check into a hotel for up to 3 days at a time.  The nursing staff didn't dare say anything because they had to cover up the fraud so they could keep getting money for care that I never got.

It was a hard time for me.  And that kind of fraud was common.  Many people were in nursing homes that didn't need to be there.  The problem was, when you live in a home, a label is put on you that makes you not credible.  So when you try to report fraud, people think you are kidding.  And they see your wheelchair and there is no way you could do anything for yourself, let alone work, sing, or be on the radio.

And the worse part for me was, some of the residents for various reasons never had visitors.  So they would wake up at night crying because they would dream about their families and be very lonely.

So if I ever get donations coming into my Ministry, one of the things I want to do is help start support groups in every State.  A team of people that would go from nursing home to nursing home and make sure fraud or abuse is not going on.  And if it is, I want those people to be helped.  Some can't dial a phone, some have no needed equipment to talk with, some don't know English, and the list goes on.  In my experience, about 60 percent of the residents I knew didn't need to be there, but I only know from 4 nursing homes in Minnesota.  I have no clue about any other States.  But my gut tells me this is everywhere.

I have never been able to post videos on sites before, so I'm like a kid in a candy store.  But I thank God that I can share this stuff because this really is a badly needed Ministry and I hope that Churches that read this blog might start an outreach of their own.  If you do, I wanna help you start it because when you first go into a nursing home setting, it's gonna freak you out.  Some residents will say things with no truth behind it, others will have a very hard time getting stuff out but will be fully credible.  So you really need a good understanding of different illnesses and disabilities so you can really help.  And you need a good understanding of how to help.  If you just jump into a situation you could really handle things the wrong way.  And being I lived it, I feel I could share some important tips for those interested in starting an outreach.

These people need prayer.  These people are worse than forgotten, they are not known about.  If you notice the news story video on the protest I was part of, not one of us were interviewed for the news clip.  We all had stories that day, but the media didn't know how to handle it because the common belief is disabled people need to be in a home.  Uh, no they don't.

People need to be given a chance.  And once you invest in them, they might invest in coming to Christ because your actions will show that God cares.

This news story was done shortly after I moved out of the nursing home back in 1992.  Sadly today, there are still many people who are in homes that don't need to be there.  And with all the budget cuts, the situation is getting worse!  It's much easier for a Social Worker to stick someone in a nursing home rather than to line up the appropriate care and services that the individual needs.

Today I'm living in a market rate apartment and get minor help from a friend.  This is what other people should have.  But because of the system, it's easier to waste $4000.00 a month per person by putting them in a nursing home.  If you know anyone in this situation, you might be their only flame of hope.  If they want out of that situation, help them all you can.  Because trust me, the staff in those places would rather keep cash coming in than to help someone get out on their own.