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State to woman: You died

State mistakenly cuts 88-year-old’s benefits

Published: Friday, Nov. 16, 2012 1:15 a.m. CDT

MILLEDGEVILLE – Jeanette I. Davis has a message for the state: I’m alive.

On Tuesday, the 88-year-old received a letter from the state Human Services Department that she no longer would receive Medicaid.

“The reason for this action: It has been reported that Jeanette Davis is deceased,” the letter stated.

Davis, who lives in Milledgeville, was not pleased.

“How would you like to open a letter and find out you’re no longer here?” she said in a telephone interview. “I have a heart condition and diabetes. I have gone through extreme cancer. But my doctor said he thought I would live to be 100. A week later, I find out I’m dead.”

The state appears to have confused Davis with a Walnut woman, Jeannette L. Davis, also 88, who died Nov. 5. Sauk Valley Media published her death notice Nov. 7.

Davis, who read the death notice for her namesake, said the state should have done more research before cutting someone’s health benefits.

“It’s rude not to follow up. They never verified the address,” she said.

Davis said she called Human Services to prove she was still alive. She enlisted her son and daughter in the effort.

After a day, she was assured she would continue to receive benefits. She credited Sherrie Vietmeyer, a Human Services employee in Sterling, for getting everything straightened out.

Vietmeyer, like others, thought Davis had died. She said she has known Davis for years; both live in Carroll County.

“When I heard her voice, it was kind of spooky,” Vietmeyer said. “I was glad she was fine.”

It was unclear how the Human Services Department goes about cutting benefits of those who have died. Agency spokespeople were unavailable for comment.

While Davis said the state’s action irritated her, she cracked a joke during an interview.

“I just got my driver’s license renewed. I think I’m still here.”

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