Tuesday, April 29, 2014

ESTATE PLANNING

If anything positive could come out of the tragic situation involving Terri Schiavo, it is that many more Americans are pursuing various documents such as "living wills", health care proxies, trust, and wills. The following are frequently asked questions about obtaining a health care proxy in Massachusetts.

WHAT IS A HEALTH CARE PROXY?

A health care proxy document is a written instruction by a person, referred to as the Principal, who appoints a health care Agent, or Proxy Agent, to make medical or health decisions when the Principal is incapacitated and unable to make or communicate such decisions. Under a durable power of attorney, your Agent is authorized to make business and financial decisions for you in accordance with your wishes. This person cannot, however, make decisions about your health or health care. You must make a separate authorization in a health care proxy document. Your health care Agent could be the same person you have named as your Agent in your durable power of attorney document, or, you could name a different person, based on different factors that do not involve financial matters.

Health Care Proxy forms are available at the PCOA.

WHAT IS A LIVING WILL?
 

How is it different than a health care proxy?

In a "living will" document, a person spells out wishes for specific situations. However, "living will" is not legally binding in Massachusetts, and is not generally recommended because they may not cover specific situations that may occur.

WHO SHOULD HAVE A HEALTH CARE PROXY?

Anyone over the age of 18 should have a health care proxy as tragedy can strike at any age.

HOW DO I GET A HEALTH CARE PROXY?

A health care proxy document must be in writing and must be witnessed by two people. Once signed, it is important to give a copy to every doctor who treats you, your Proxy agent, keep a copy with your medical records, in your "yellow dot" package if you have a yellow dot, and keep a copy with you. You might also wish give a copy to all immediate family members, or other people medical staff might contact. You can obtain copies of a health care proxy document at the Council on Aging, or also at the following website from the Massachusetts Medical Society. www.healthcareproxy.org

WHAT HAPPENS IF I DON'T HAVE A HEALTH CARE PROXY?

If you become unable to communicate, it may be necessary for family members, caregivers, or friends to file a petition with the Probate Court in order to have a legal guardian appointed to make medical decisions.

WHAT HAPPENS IF I DECIDE TO CHANGE MY AGENT?

A health care proxy can be revoked at any time. You would simply fill out a new health care proxy document and redistribute the updated form.

Remember, if you appoint a health care proxy, the Agent will only be able to act on your behalf if and when you are unable to communicate your wishes. It is very important to discuss your wishes and beliefs with your Agent so that if needed, he or she can make medical decisions based on your wishes.

DIABETES SCREENING

Medicare will pay for diabetes screening tests for the purpose of early detection for persons at risk for diabetes. Since these are clinical laboratory tests, the beneficiary will not be responsible for a deductible or coinsurance.
The screening includes:
  • Fasting glucose test; and
  • Other tests that may be deemed appropriate after
    consulting with appropriate organizations

A person is at risk if they have any of the following risk factors:

  • High blood pressure or high cholesterol
  • Obesity
  • Previously elevated impaired fasting glucose
    or previously impaired glucose tolerance

At least two of the following characteristics:

  • Overweight
  • Family history of diabetes
  • History of gestational diabetes,
    or delivery of a baby over 9 pounds
  • 65 years of age or older

MEDICARE INTERNET SITE

You may use My Medicare to:
    * View claim status (excluding Part D claims),
    * Order a duplicate Medicare Summary Notice (MSN) or replacement Medicare card,
    * View eligibility, entitlement and preventive services information,
    * View enrollment information including prescription drug plans,
    * View or modify your drug list and pharmacy information,
    * View address of record with Medicare and Part B deductible status, and
    * Access online forms, publications and messages sent to you by CMS.

    

In order to use this service, you must be a registered user.

MEDICARE PRESCRIPTION DRUG "EXTRA HELP"

 Are you struggling to afford costs related to your Medicare prescription drug plan? If you are a Medicare beneficiary with limited income and assets, you may be eligible to receive “Extra Help,” also known as the Low Income Subsidy (LIS). Social Security offers Extra Help to reduce costs related to Medicare prescription drug plans such as monthly premiums, annual deductibles, and prescription co-payments. Contact your SHINE counselor to see if you qualify for Extra Help!

ARE YOU A HOSPITAL INPATIENT OR OUTPATIENT?


If You Have Medicare—Ask !
Did you know that even if you stay in the hospital overnight, you might still be considered an “outpatient”? Your hospital status (whether the hospital considers you an “inpatient” or outpatient”) affects how much you pay for hospital status may also affect whether Medicare will cover care you get in a skilled nursing
Facility (SNF).

An inpatient admission begins the day you’re formally admitted to the hospital with a doctor’s order. The day before you’re discharged is your last inpatient day. You’re an outpatient if you’re getting emergency department services, observation services, lab tests, or X-rays, and the doctor hasn’t written an order to admit you as an impatient even if you spend the night at the hospital.

If you’re in the hospital more than a few hours,
always ask your doctor or the hospital staff if you’re an inpatient or an outpatient.

Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) covers inpatient hospital services. Generally, this means you pay a one-time deductible for all of your hospital services for the first 60 days you’re in the hospital.

Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) covers most of your doctor services when you’re an inpatient. You pay 20% of the Medicare-approved amount for doctor services after paying the Part B deductible.

Medicare Part B covers outpatient hospital and doctor services. Generally, this means you pay a co-payment For each outpatient hospital service. This amount may vary by service.

For more detailed information on how Medicare covers hospital services, including premiums, deductibles and co-payments, call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).

Medicare Update

Notes on Health Care Reform Act  Most of the cost-saving measures don’t affect basic Medicare benefits, but they may affect those enrolled in private Medicare Advantage plans.
  • Health care reform requires the government to pay private insurers less, therefore it is likely some will choose not to continue their plans. Others will curtail extra benefits such as reimbursement for gym membership or free eyeglasses.
  • The largest cuts will occur in 2015.
  • Satisfactory plans will be eligible for bonuses.
Medicare reimbursements to nursing homes will be cut by approximately $15 billion over the next decade.

A combination of the additional revenue and savings are estimated to extend the life of Medicare an additional 7 to 10 years from its current insolvency date of 2017.

Medicare Rights

As a hospital inpatient, you have the right to:
  • Receive Medicare covered services. This includes medically necessary hospital services and services you may need after you are discharged, of ordered by your doctor. You have a right to know about these services, who will pay for them and where you can get them.
  • Be involved in any decisions about your hospital stay, and know who will pay for it.
Report any concerns you have about the quality of care you receive to the Quality Improvement Organization
(QIO) at Masspro at 1-800-252-5533 (TTY 1-800-439-2370.)

Your Medicare discharge rights: During your hospital stay, the hospital staff will be working with you to prepare you for safe discharge and arrange for services you may need after you leave the hospital. When you no longer need inpatient hospital care,
your doctor or the hospital staff will inform you of your planned discharge date.

If you think you are being discharged too soon:
  • You can talk to the hospital staff, your doctor and your managed care plan about your concerns.
  • You also have the right to an appeal, that is , a review of your case by a Quality Improvement Organization (QIO). The QIO is an outside reviewer hired by Medicare to look at your case to decide whether you are ready to leave the hospital. To appeal, you must contact the QIO no later than your planned discharge date and before you leave the hospital.
  • If you do not appeal, but decide to stay in the hospital past your planned discharge date, you may have to pay for any services you receive after that date.
To file an appeal or report any concerns you have about the quality of care you receive
Masspro 1-800-252-5533 (TTY 1-800-439-2390)
between 8:30 AM—5:00 PM
(If you call this helpline outside of normal business hours, be sure to listen carefully to the after-hours helpline message and follow the instructions.)
(published by the Department of Health & Human Services Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services)

Medicare Appeals

AN IMPORTANT RIGHT FOR MEDICARE BENEFICIARIES
Sometimes, Medicare beneficiaries feel they have been released from hospital, nursing home, home health agency or hospice care before they are ready to leave. All Medicare beneficiaries, whether covered under Original Medicare or a Medicare Advantage Plan, have appeal rights. This means that trained medical professionals will review the beneficiary’s medical record and decide whether the beneficiary has been released too soon or whether the timing of the release was correct.

Below are some steps to follow if you feel you are being released from a hospital, nursing home, home
health agency or hospice too soon:
  • Talk to your doctor about continuing your care.
  • Ask your case manager or social worker for an official (written) Medicare notice.
  • Follow the instructions on the notice. Masspro‘s helpline telephone number will be on the notice.
  • Masspro will ask you for your views and review your medical record.
  • You’ll be informed of Masspro’s decision first by phone and then by mail. At that time, you will also receive information about other appeal rights.
Call Masspro’s helpline at 1-800-252-5533, or Medicare at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). You can call or you can ask a friend or family member to call for you.

Home Modification Loans

For Adults and Children with Disabilities and Elders
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts provides loans so you can:

Improve home accessibility and live in your home longer.

0% interest and 3% interest loans from $1,000 to $30,000 for access-related projects. The 0% loan does not need to be repaid until the home is sold or transferred!

For more information or to apply, contact Steve Scarano at MRC at 617-204-3724 or contact him by email at Steven.Scarano@state.ma.us





Social Security

As you know, major changes to Social Security are being proposed. It is extremely important to learn about these proposed changes and let your representatives know how you feel.  After all, our Representatives represent us.  Even if we think he or she agrees with us, it is still important to contact them.

Lisa and Maryanne are available to assist you with fuel assistance and food stamps applications as well as health insurance and Social Security questions.

Identity Theft Prevention

One crime that is becoming popular with thieves and often overlooked by the public is Identity Theft. With occurrences on the rise, attention must be taken to prevent victimization. Identity Theft affects thousands of people every year with the number of victims growing.

ID Theft occurs when thieves obtain a person’s name, address, date of birth (DOB), and social security number (SSN). This goldmine of information can be used, without your knowledge, to commit various types of fraud such as opening new credit cards in your name and draining your bank account. Becoming a victim can be extremely easy as thieves will look through your trash (dumpster divers) searching for account numbers, SSN and other vital information. Identity Theft also occurs by someone simply stealing your wallet, purse, and mail, important information in your home and by phone/door-to-door scams.

What are the warning signs that you potentially may be a victim of ID Theft? According to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, credit card fraud is the most common form of ID Theft and prevented by simply staying diligent with your credit card statements. Statements that stop arriving or statements that have unknown charges are a clear sign. Being denied credit for no apparent reason, especially if you have good credit, could be a sign. Receiving bills from companies you don’t recognize or credit card bills from credit cards you did not apply for is also a warning sign.
How can you protect yourself? As with any crime, you cannot completely control whether you become a victim. The most important principle to remember, and one we’ve all heard, is “if it’s too good to be true, it is.” Shredding documents is an essential tool in fighting the victimization of ID theft. Anything that has your name,address, DOB, SSN, or account numbers should be shredded prior to it being placed in the trash.

Do you have your social security card or your birth certificate in your wallet? If so, why? Don’t you have these numbers and dates memorized? If someone steals your wallet or purse they will have your social security number and when they have that they have everything!

If you believe you have been a victim of Identity Theft, notify your local police, creditors and financial institutions, credit report agencies, and Social Security Administration immediately.

Prescription Advantage

MEDICARE PART D "DONUT HOLE" IS CLOSING!
Unfortunately, it is not closing until the year 2020.
The federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (often known as Health Care Reform) provides for gradual closure of the Medicare Part D “donut hole.” That hole will not fully close until 2020.
This year, when Medicare beneficiaries (who do not get Extra Help) reach the donut hole, their Part D plan will pay 50% of covered brand name drugs and 7% of covered generic drugs. The beneficiary’s cost will be the remaining 50% (brand name) or 93% (generic). If you take a brand name drug that costs $300, you will still have to pay $150!!

This is where Prescription Advantage can help.
Prescription Advantage, the Massachusetts prescription drug assistance program, can help reduce your out-of-pocket costs even further when you reach the donut hole.
To find out how to lower your drug costs, call Prescription Advantage at 1-800-243-4636 or TTY for the deaf and hard of hearing at 1-977-610-0241.
The money you save can be your own!




The Top 10 Reasons to Join Prescription Advantage
10. There is no monthly premium
 9. Prescription Advantage helps to lower co-payments.
 8. You may qualify to have Prescription Advantage help pay your Part D premium.
 7. Coverage available to individuals not eligible for Medicare.
 6. As a Prescription Advantage member, you can change your Part D plan without waiting for Medicare’s open enrollment.
 5. Live customer service.
 4. Prescription Advantage will cover a 72-hour emergency supply of medication if the pharmacy is unable to bill your Part D plan.
 3. Prescription Advantage puts a limit on what you will spend each year for your prescription drugs.
 2. With Prescription Advantage there is no need to worry about the “donut hole.”

And the #1 reason to join Prescription Advantage . . . .
 1. There is no reason not to join!

Please contact Sheila or Maryanne at 978-531-2254.

$4.00 Medications

Wal-Mart, Target, Hannafords and Walgreen's all have a variety of generic medications offered for $4.00 each a month ! Also, for those with computers, you can go to www.needymeds.org to get free or no cost medications.

Mass MedLine

There has been a recent increase in the development of new discount cards initiatives providing discounts on both brand and generic medications at pharmacies across the state. Some plans indicate that they are a ‘statewide initiative’ which may be misinterpreted by the consumer that the program is a product of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. There are multiple programs for patients to obtain their medications at an
affordable cost.

Please know that you can reach MassMedLine (toll free: 1-800-633-1617) as a trusted resource for all programs (federal, state and private) that provide assistance accessing medications and available plans.

MassMedLine is a result of a long-standing partnership between the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences and the Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs. Please use the toll-free help line, or click on the “Ask The Pharmacist” link on their website at http://www.mcphs.edu/impact/community-service-programs/pharmacy-outreach-program to ensure you are utilizing the programs that are best for you.

In-Home Care Problems?

Are you at least 60 years of age and have a problem with your in-home caregiving services?

Do you know someone who does?

If so, please call us!
1-800-243-4636     (1-800-AGE-INFO)

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Senior Service Links


American Association for Retired Persons
AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization for people age 50 and over.
Benefits Check-Up
BenefitsCheckUp helps thousands every day to find programs for people ages 55 and over that may pay for some of their costs of prescription drugs, health care, utilities, and other essential items or services. Please fill out our simple questionnaire to find programs that can assist you or your loved ones.
Mass Home Care
Are you looking for eldercare information, or services for a family member or friend? Is care in the community your first choice? Mass Home Care can help you find what you need.
North Shore Elder Services
North Shore Elder Services (NSES) is a team of specialists making life easier for elders and those who care for them. We offer information, support, and solutions.
Senior Corps
Senior Corps is a network of programs that tap the experience, skills, and talents of older citizens to meet community challenges with Foster Grandparents, Senior Companions, and RSVP (Retired and Senior Volunteer Program).
SeniorNet
SeniorNet is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization of computer-using adults, age 50 and older. SeniorNet's mission is to provide older adults education for and access to computer technologies to enhance their lives and enable them to share their knowledge and wisdom.
The American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging
The American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging (AAHSA) is committed to advancing the vision of healthy, affordable, ethical long-term care for America. The association represents 5,600 mission-driven, not-for-profit nursing homes, continuing care retirement communities, assisted living and senior housing facilities, and community service organizations.

The National Senior Citizens Law Center
The National Senior Citizens Law Center advocates nationwide to promote the independence and well-being of low-income elderly individuals and persons with disabilities.

Dial 2-1-1 for Elderly Care

This is a statewide free confidential telephone service that connects callers to essential health and human services, such as a food pantry, or where to secure care for an aging parent.

This program is supported by the United Ways of Massachusetts. 2-1-1 is the dialing code for free access to health and human services Information and Referral. It provides an easy-to-remember and universally recognizable number that makes a critical connection between individuals and families seeking services or volunteer opportunities and the appropriate community based organizations and government agencies.

2-1-1 makes it possible for people to navigate the complex and every-growing maze of human service agencies and programs.

2-1-1 Services

211 is the national abbreviated dialing code for free access
to health and human services information.

Within the Commonwealth there are literally thousands of phone numbers for health and social service programs, government offices, community organizations, volunteer referral centers, donation clearinghouses, educational systems and neighborhood groups! This is a one-stopshopping program which also has access to updated disaster information, numerous post-disaster programs, interpreter services and also has the ability to act as the registration site for spontaneous volunteers and donations from the public during an emergency or crisis.

Veteran's Services FREE LEGAL HELP ABOUT BENEFITS!

FREE LEGAL HELP ABOUT BENEFITS!

Are you a veteran, or family member of a veteran, who needs to apeal a state or a federal benefits decision?
The MBA can help.
Every Monday
Call 617-338-0572 between 3:00 and 5:00 PM
to be matched with a volunteer attorney—for FREE.

This program is being offered as a public service of the Massachusetts Bar Association and U.S. Trust.

Veterans Services

Until further notice, Chris Tighe, Director of Veterans Services, will be available only at City Hall, 24 Lowell Street in Peabody, MA. He can be reached at 978-538-5925.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Extra Help from Social Security:

 It's easier than ever to save on your prescription costs.  Apply Now! - Chubby Checker


Extra Help is for Medicare recipients with limited income and resources. Some people qualify for full Extra Help, and some qualify for partial Extra Help, depending on income. Extra Help pays all or most of prescription drug plan monthly premiums and annual deductibles, and lowers the prescription drug copayments.
If you have Medicare, you can qualify for Extra Help if:
  • you meet the Extra Help resource and income limits. See Extra Help Income and Resource Limits on the Social Security web site for current limits.
  • you have MassHealth Standard (dual eligible), Medicare Buy-In (QMB, SLMB, or QI), or SSI. Medicare recipients in these categories automatically qualify for full Extra Help and do not have to file an application.
For more information about Extra Help:
For more info see MassResources.org>>

Power of Attorney

How do I get a power of attorney?

A power of attorney is a legal document in which you give another person (your "agent") the right to handle financial and legal matters for you. The person you name as your agent must be 18 years of age or older and can be a family member or close friend. The person you choose should be someone you trust with your money and other possessions.
  • Giving someone else the power of attorney does not mean you give up your own rights. You can still handle your own financial and legal matters, and you can revoke the power of attorney at any time. The power of attorney ends upon your death.
  • In Massachusetts, the power of attorney may be general or limited. A general power of attorney gives your agent all of the rights that you have in handling your financial matters. A limited power of attorney gives your agent only the rights you list in the document. For example, you may authorize someone to sign a particular legal document for you while you are out of town.
  • A power of attorney does not give your agent the right to make medical decisions for you. You must have a health care proxy for this purpose.
  • A power of attorney can be written to go into effect right away, or at a later date.
  • A regular power of attorney stops being in effect if you become incompetent. If you want the power of attorney to go into effect, or remain in effect, if you become incompetent, you must have a durable power of attorney.
  • Rules about durable powers of attorney can be found in the Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 190B, Article V,  Protection of Persons Under Disability and Their Property, Sections 5-501 and 5-502.
Having a durable power of attorney can save your family time and money if you become incompetent. However, a durable power of attorney can be abused. Even though you aren't required to have a lawyer to write a power of attorney document, you should get legal advice to protect yourself.

You can get a power of attorney form from your local ASAP or Legal Services office. Legal Services offers free legal help to seniors age 60 or older.
You can find sample power of attorney forms in A Guide for Elders (Chapter 2: Why Do I Need a Power of Attorney Document?) from the UMass Boston Gerontology Institute.

For more info see MassResources.org>>

Health Care Proxy

How do I get a health care proxy?

A health care proxy is a simple legal document that allows you to choose someone to make medical decisions for you, if, for any reason, you are unable to make these decisions yourself. The person you choose (your "agent") must be at least 18 years old, and should be someone you know and trust to act in your best interest. You can give your agent the authority to make all medical decisions for you, or you can limit your agent's authority by including a list of specific medical treatments you would accept or reject.

Your health care proxy will take effect only if your physician declares in writing that you are unable to make your own decisions. This could happen if you were unconscious or in a coma, or mentally incompetent, for example. Your agent would then be allowed to talk to your doctors about your health, and would have the authority to accept or refuse treatment for you.

You do not need a lawyer to complete a health care proxy. You can fill out the form yourself. The only requirement is that you sign your health care proxy in front of two adult witnesses. (Your agent cannot be a witness.) Once you have signed the form, you should give a copy to your agent, your doctors, family members, and any health centers where your medical records are kept. You may change your health care proxy at any time.

You can get more information and a copy of the health care proxy document online:
You can also get a health care proxy from your doctor, health clinic, or ASAP.
A health care proxy is also called a "durable power of attorney for health care." Rules about health care proxies can be found in the Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 201D. HEALTH CARE PROXIES.

For more info see MassResources.org>>

Emergency Kit Checklist


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

AARP Driver Safety Program




 To locate a classroom course visit aarp.org/findacourse

 To register for the online course, visit aarpdriversafety.org.

 After completing the course you’ll receive a certificate of completion that can be presented to your insurance agent for a possible reduction in your auto insurance premiums.

Lynn Economic Opportunity HomeCorps Program Offered through the Attorney General's Office







































For additional info see:

http://www.mass.gov/ago/news-and-updates/initiatives/addressing-the-foreclosure-crisis/homecorps/http://leoinc.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=menu&menu_id=5005

Identity Theft


Download Audiobooks & eBooks anytime, anywhere

Best sellers and classics available

http://overdrive.noblenet.org/83E9E5AA-F251-434F-9ACE-9A114411C151/10/50/en/Default.htm


Click here for more info>>

Massachusetts Senior Legal Helpline


Click here for LARGER IMAGE or Printable Version>>

Click here for more info>>

http://www.mass.gov/elders/senior-legal-helpline.html