An invitation to become more socially, politically engaged

Also: update on state retiree benefits

A little history today. In 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson declared that he was starting a “War on Poverty.” Several of the most forward thinking citizens of Anchorage decided that they would join that war. They got together and formed the Older Persons Action Group, to have an entity to receive help from the Office of Economic Opportunity, to achieve the goal of helping seniors and others in Anchorage, who were foundering in need.

Although the “war” did not last long, due to the change in federal administrations, that is still OPAG’s mission. We must win that war!

This timely notice appeared in the 1976 summer edition of the OPAG newsletter : “Register and Vote: If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.”

Would you like to be a part of a group of people who advocate for Alaskan seniors? Would you like to make sure that seniors get their fair share of state funds for programs?

I am looking for people, like the ones who started OPAG, who would like to share their thoughts, feelings and problems. Many of us live in isolated areas or are “shut-ins,” who cannot talk things over with people our own age. Even those who live in large cities will often have a question relating to family, health, relationships, self-confidence and so forth that they want to discuss with someone of a similar age and experience.

People don’t always agree on everything. This is what makes our society interesting. Your viewpoint on an issue will differ depending on who you are and what is important to you. Open your eyes to what is going on around you. What are the big issues that might affect you? Ask yourself, “What do I think? Where do I stand? What kind of world do I want to live in? How do I want my children or grandchildren to live? Do I want to be able to walk the streets of my town without dodging bullets?”

Signing a petition is an easy way of being active. It can be very effective. If enough people sign a petition, a referendum can be held where everyone gets to vote on an issue. Remember, elections have consequences, so voting is the most important thing one can do. I have found that the easiest way to vote is by mail. No worries about weather or distance to polls. All one has to do is call your elections office and ask to be sent a ballot.

If you want to vote in a municipal election, you must call the Municipal Clerk, in Anchorage the number is 343-4376. There is a member directory with contact information for clerks elsewhere around the state at If you want to vote in a state election the Anchorage number is 522-8683 and the statewide number is 1-866-952-8683.

To join my informal group in person or on the phone, or to just talk it over, contact me at one of the numbers or the email address below.

State retiree benefits

For those of you who are retired State of Alaska employees, you should have already received your new ID cards from Aetna and MODA, our new insurers, and from AlaskaCare. If you haven’t yet received your new ID cards, you should call the state’s Retirement & Benefits program at 269-0333 in Anchorage or the AlaskaCare number in Juneau at 1-800-821-2251.

Before you do anything, you must register with Aetna. To do this, go to the AlaskaCare website and find the Aetna registration box. I have found that it is almost as difficult as getting on the Affordable Care Act. But have patience, it can be done. Just do it while you are still healthy.

MODA is the company that handles dental insurance and I have a list of their preferred providers in Alaska. If you would like a list of the dentists who take new patients, I can send it to you. There are 32 of them on my list. If you want to use your current dentist, call the MODA number and check with them as to what the difference in cost might be.

The pharmacies are CVS, of which there are none in Alaska. The following drug stores will accept theAetna insurance cards: Carrs-Safeway, WalMart, Walgreens, Fred Meyer and maybe others.

If you get your medications through the mail order program, the new fax number for your doctor to contact them is 1-800-329-2779.

Rita Hatch volunteers for the Older Persons Action Group Medicare Information program. Call her at 276-1059 in Anchorage or toll-free statewide a 1-800-478-1059. Her email address is

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