Wound center, heating assistance and other updates

Healing wounds in Anchorage

I would like to tell you about a wonderful service I discovered in Anchorage. It is called the Wound Center and is run by registered nurses, who work under a physician’s orders. The center provides care services for a variety of wounds such as those caused by diabetes and related complications; leg wounds caused by impaired circulation; non-healing surgical wounds; burns and frostbite and wounds caused by infection or pressure and mobility deficits. Staff assist with the coordination of additional testing and consultations to promote wound healing. They have an ostomy registered nurse, who is an experienced patient educator and problem solver.

You will need to be referred by a physician, as patients are only scheduled with appointments from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. The center is located at the Providence Alaska Medical Center and the phone number is 212-5630. But they will not see anyone unless they are referred by a physician.

I highly recommend the wound center as I was a patient there and received wonderful, caring attention.

Heating Assistance deadline is April 30

The Heating Assistance Program may help your household pay a portion of home heating expenses. Applications are accepted Oct. 1 through April 30 and will be accepted at all public assistance offices or can be mailed to Heating Assistance Program, 10002 Glacier Highway, Suite 305, Juneau AK 99801-1700. They may also be faxed toll-free to 1-888-282-3319.

Income guidelines vary depending on household size, ranging from $2,619 monthly for a single income household to $7,261 for a family of six. Guidelines are on the application. It may take up to 45 days to process your application. Eligibility for the grant is calculated using a point system based on the area of the state where you live, fuel type, dwelling type, household size and income.

More information and an application you can download is available on the program Web site at http://dhss.alaska.gov/dpa/pages/hap/default.aspx or call toll-free 1-800-470-3058.

ID law would make it harder to vote

There is a controversial bill (HB3), sponsored by Rep. Bob Lynn, being floated in Juneau that will be devastating to seniors because it will make it harder for them to vote. As far as I know, there has been little or no voter fraud in Alaska in the 46 years that I have lived here. This measure that Lynn is proposing will require voters to show official picture ID before they will be allowed to vote. Many poor, elderly and minorities are less likely to have such ID, as they don’t have driver licenses. This bill would make it especially hard for rural residents to vote.

I know personally how hard it is to get a birth certificate from another state or any other document that will allow one to get an Alaska ID card. Please contact your state senator and representative and tell them that you are against this discriminatory bill. If you need to know who your representative is, please call us and we will look it up for you.

What you should know about the Chained Consumer Price Index

The Chained United States Consumer Price Index that you have been hearing about is a time series measure of price levels of consumer goods and services created by the Bureau of labor Statistics as an alternative to the United States Consumer Price Index. This chained index is not currently employed by the United States in its programs, but is often discussed as a possible reform because many economists believe it better measures inflation and reduces the federal deficit through a combination of spending cuts and increased revenues. As such, because the Chained CPI is used to measure things such as Cost of Living Adjustments, overestimating inflation leads to a higher than actual living adjustment.

Opponents of the measure contend that changing inflation metrics to the Chained CPI would be a benefit cut to programs like Social Security  and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Opponents claim that the current CPI devised for programs for the elderly understates their inflation by not taking into account different buying patterns for different age groups.

On average since 2000, the Chained CPI has measured inflation between 0.25 percent to 0.3 percent slower than CPI-U and CPI-W. Opponents of the change note that while the difference is small, it compounds over time, making the reduction in outlays for COLAs for Social Security larger when looked at over a long time horizon.

This sounds complicated but in essence, what it does is reduce your Social Security benefits.

And as always, if you agree with me, then call your congressional employees and tell them. If you disagree, call or write to me.

Rita Hatch volunteers for Older Persons Action Group’s Medicare Counseling and Assistance program. Call her at 276-1059 in Anchorage or 1-800-478-1059 toll-free statewide. Her e-mail address is ritaopag@gci.net.