“Representatives from SafeLink and Assurance, two of the leading New York Lifeline vendors, stand outside the food-stamp offices, paired like Mormon missionaries, young and polite and earnest,” the articles notes. “They carry electronic tablets and ask all passersby whether they’ve received their free phone ‘yet’ — as if it were an inevitability.”
It gets crazier from there:
They approached me for the first time outside the food-stamp office at Tenth Avenue and 216th Street, on the northern tip of Manhattan. The SafeLink vendor, a man probably in his mid 20s, asked me whether I was enrolled in any benefit programs.
“No,” I said, “but I’d certainly like to be. I’m hoping to be.” And indeed, while doing research for another story, I had gone through the motions of applying for New York City welfare, which I also don’t qualify for. I showed him my Human Resources Administration paperwork packet and the case number assigned to me. I reiterated that though I had once applied, I had never been approved for any sort of benefit.
He brought out his electronic tablet immediately to sign me up for phone service. He asked if I had an insurance card, so I pulled out my trusty Blue Cross Blue Shield. He looked at it for a second, puzzled, then asked if I had Medicaid. No, I told him, just private insurance through my work plan.
After photographing her Blue Cross Blue Shield card and getting her home address, she was done. The process took maybe five minutes and she was signed up for a taxpayer-funded cell phone. At no point did she have to prove she was a low-income earner.
Edited by F3SS, 02 August 2013 - 03:14 AM.