MIDWEST CITY, Okla. (KFOR) – A disabled veteran with a life-threatening medical condition that requires at home electricity has been denied a short term medical waiver that could grant him a short extension to make payments on an overdue electric bill.
When he spoke with KFOR for an interview on Tuesday, Theodore Cline was staring at a cut-off notice for his electric bill.
He said the notice stems from his OG&E bills in November and December that he has had difficulty paying off.
“I had called to make a payment arrangement. And they wouldn’t do a payment arrangement because we had a previous broken one,” he said to KFOR.
He says OG&E told him because he uses a CPAP machine to breathe at night, he could submit paperwork for life saving medical equipment within thirty days, thereby getting an extension.
However, Cline told KFOR the VA lost the paperwork, and now OG&E is telling him there is no way to help him keep his power before it’s cut off within the next few days.
“I contacted the VA Monday morning and they had said they lost the paperwork,” said Theodore Cline.
Cline said the VA located the right form in a pile of paperwork late Monday, and resubmitted it to the utility, but by then it was too late.
“The VA called [OG&E} and said, ‘We’re submitting a letter today. And they said, Well, there’s nothing we can do. It was over the time period that we allowed them and we can’t give them any more grace period or anything like that.'”
“OG&E is not willing to bend in the least bit,” he added.
While OG&E has expressed a willingness to investigate customer problems in the past, a statement from the utility Tuesday indicated that they were unable to discuss why they would not offer help to Cline.
A representative for the VA also said they were unable to discuss any patient records without a signed release of Health Information form.
Social Workers at the Oklahoma City VA Health Care System are trained to assist Veterans with issues similar to what this Veteran is experiencing and provide resources based on income and eligibility. Social workers help Veterans contact local charities, aid programs, and State run assistance programs designed to help with financial hardships for individuals who meet certain income requirements.Oklahoma City Veterans Affairs Health Care System
Cline then called the Oklahoma Corporation Commission on the recommendation of the VA, who also said their hands are tied.
Government guidelines show that a utility disconnection may be delayed for thirty days with a certificate confirming a life-threatening condition or for life support equipment, but a customer is required to negotiate a payment plan.
Cline said while he recently learned about a federally funded program that offers utility assistance, he’s concerned he may not qualify in time.
“We’re just running the brick wall after brick wall,” he said.
“We’re not looking for somebody to pay our bill or anything like that. We just want the extra week.”