Thursday, November 1, 2012

Stephanie Patton in Her Own Words

Stephanie Patton in her own words

Tuesday evening, there was a "debate" between Republican candidate for governor Dave Spence and incumbent Democrat, Gov. Jay Nixon, at Greater Bethlehem Baptist Church in north St. Louis. Nixon didn't show up. Spence was there with his campaign message and to take questions from the predominantly black audience. I will post video of his remarks later.


A couple of Spence's supporters spoke Tuesday evening including Stephanie Patton who is featured in the video at the top of this post. Stephanie recently appeared in a Dave Spence TV ad. I've covered her story on this blog:
The Spence ad has drawn criticism from the St. Louis Post Dispatch's Tony Messenger:
In the ad, an African-American woman who used to own an adult day care business tells how a state worker berated her and hurled a racial epithet at her during an inspection. One problem: Mr. Spence’s opponent, Gov. Jay Nixon, wasn’t even governor when the alleged incident, outlined in a lawsuit, even occurred.
One of the most salacious aspects of Stephanie's story was the October 2008 inspection in which DHSS inspector, Cassie Blum, hit Patton and called her the n-word; however, those actions alone did not lead to the closure of Patton's business. They do beg the question: why does Cassie Blum still have a job?

The Court of Appeals for the Western District noted in their September 25th, 2012, opinion that DSS dragged their feet communicating with Stephanie [emphasis added]:
As a result of Peace of Mind's failure to maintain a medical model license, DSS terminated Peace of Mind's participation in the MO HealthNet program effective on the close of business of December 20, 2008, and stopped making payments to Peace of Mind. DSS informed Patton of its decision in a letter dated February 2, 2009.
The state of Missouri cut off Stephanie's funding and waited a month and a half to tell her. She had expenses for client care, rent, payroll, utilities, but was not compensated. The trial, circuit, and appeals courts all found that she was due $45,340, yet she has still not been reimbursed.

Stephanie tried to re-open her adult day care business in April of 2009. She incurred some expenses, but then the state refused to let her bill for clients. The simple fact is that Missouri's bureaucracy prevented her from working.

On multiple occasions Stephanie has tried to meet with the Gov Nixon. He's refused to meet with her. So a small Medicaid provider like Stephanie gets run out of business, while Centene Corporation with its $66,500 in donations to Jay Nixon's gubernatorial campaign gets a $1.1 billion contract.

Since the 2008 inspection with Blum, Stephanie has lost her business, her car, her home, and suffered immeasurable emotional anguish, but the Governor refuses to meet with her. The courts have ruled, so why won't the state make Stephanie whole?

Update: Stephanie's story still hurts when she re-tells it as can be seen in the video above. When I spoke with her Wednesday, she commented that she didn't think she could get through the second part of her story, so she didn't even bring it up Tuesday night.

That part begins in January of 2011 just a couple months after the Administrative Hearing Court (AHC) had ruled in her favor in October of 2010. Stephanie knew her AHC case would have to wind its way through the appeals process, but she did not anticipate criminal charges from Attorney General Chris Koster.

Koster's office alleged that $1500 in Medicaid payments that Missouri had made to Stephanie constituted theft on Stephanie's part. The county prosecutor represents the AG in criminal cases like this here in Missouri. After gathering the facts of Koster's criminal complaint against Stephanie, the St. Louis county prosecutor asked the judge to dismiss it.

Nonetheless, the criminal complaint had numerous side-effects. First, a warrant was issued for Stephanie's arrest, so she had to make bail and spend a few hours in jail. She couldn't find work even at a dry cleaners or convenience store because there was a criminal charge of theft against her. She had a few months of stress, to say nothing of the emotional toll, as a result of the criminal charge.

And, even after the charges were dropped, Stephanie was still marked in DHSS/DSS's computer systems. When she interviewed for jobs in the healthcare industry and, despite her record of having run an adult day care facility for eighteen years, she would be turned down because the computer system said she was ineligible for work in the healthcare field. Missouri's AG and the DHSS/DSS bureaucracy had made it illegal for her to work.

Stephanie was the collateral damage of a frivolous and, I believe, vindictive prosecution initiated by AG Chris Koster.

Throughout all of that, Stephanie tried to arrange a meeting with Gov. Nixon. With an out-of-control Attorney General, who else could she appeal to? All she wanted to do was petition the government for a redress of grievances, but Nixon's office repeatedly stonewalled and re-buffed her.

Stephanie Patton is one reason why you should vote against both Nixon and Koster next Tuesday. Dave Spence and Ed Martin simply have to be better.

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