Update on food assistance, other programs

News and Views from Rita

The calendar says that it is spring but my calendar says , “Where?” Well soon, maybe.

I can’t stress this enough, because I have had so many questions about it: If you are on Medicare, you do not have to buy insurance through the Affordable Care Act. You already have insurance.

However if  you are  not on Medicare and do not have health insurance, you cannot get any through the ACA until November 15, 2014, unless you have a qualifying life event such as moving to a new state, have a change in income or in family size.

You should tell this to anyone you know who is age 27 to 64 and not on Medicare.

If you know someone who did not get on insurance through the Affordable Care Act before March 31, 2014, they could save the penalty they will accrue if they get private insurance that is equal to the parameters of the ACA. The penalty, which will be collected through one’s income tax return, will be either 1 percent of one’s household income or $95 per person, and the penalty grows each succeeding year. They will probably pay more for that health insurance but they will not have to keep it after Nov 15, when they can then get on a cheaper ACA insurance policy.

Food assistance is a SNAP

People cannot live without food and there is no shame in getting food stamps, if you qualify for them. We call them food stamps but they are no longer stamps that come in a booklet. We are in the electronic age and food stamps are now given to one as a debit card, with no stigma attached.

The program is now called SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. SNAP also has programs to help you learn to eat healthy and be active.

Any person or family can apply for SNAP and, if you qualify, the amount of SNAP that you will receive depends on how much money you have and how many people are in your family and some of your expenses.

If you are an immigrant, you will have to prove that you have legal status to apply for SNAP. If your children are legal Americans, they may be able to get SNAP even if you cannot.

To learn more about SNAP you can call 1-800-221-5689 or see http://www.fns.usda.gov/snap.

Food for low-income seniors

Alaska offers the Community Supplemental Food Program (Alaska CSFP), which is a USDA federal food program that distributes foods to low–income seniors. The monthly income guidelines for seniors are $1,580 for a one-person household monthly $1,580 and $2,130 for a two-person household.

This program distributes a monthly package of nutritious food including canned meat, vegetables, fruit, juice, cheese, milk, cereal, beans, pasta, rice or potatoes.

You can apply for this program at most senior centers or the Salvation Army Older Alaskans Program.  

Aetna providers and state retirees

The following information pertains to seniors who are retired state employees.

If you need any procedure that is being done by a medical practitioner, you must get pre-approved by Aetna, unless that practitioner is a member of the Aetna network.

I have been told that it is relatively easy for a medical practitioner to get on the Aetna network by calling Aetna and asking for an application.

Voting gives you power

If you are interested in taking part in our government process, which is a right and a privilege of every citizen, you should be aware that in Anchorage, we will be voting for an Assembly member and two school board members. There are also nine very important propositions on the ballot.

If you do not vote (which is unthinkable to me) you are allowing someone else’s opinions to rule you.

When I came to Alaska almost 48 years ago, and knew that I would never leave this wonderful land, one of the first things I did was register to vote.

It will be too late, by the time you get this, to vote in the municipal election but there is another election occurring in November. Remember: “Register and Vote. If you are not a part of the solution, you are a part of the problem.”

Do you believe that public money should go to enhance public schools and that if you want to send your child to a private school you should pay for it with your private funds?

Get in touch with your legislator and if you don’t know who that is, call me and I will tell you who he or she is.

If you are in disagreement with any of my opinions, contact me. I promise not to bite back and I would like to hear any diverse opinions.

Rita Hatch volunteers for the Older Persons Action Group Medicare Assistance Program. Call her at 276-1059 in Anchorage, 1-800-478-1059 toll-free statewide, or by email at ritaopag@gci.net. Her mailing address is 325 E. Third Ave., Suite 300, Anchorage AK 99501.

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