A look back, and some reminders to think ahead
News and views from Rita
This month I decided to delve into some Older Persons Action Group archive documents, recently discovered in an old file cabinet.
At the beginning of year its 10th year, Senior Voice’s circulation was 6,000 and it was the only newspaper in the state dealing exclusively with senior citizen problems, needs and desires.
In 1983, in its first try entering its writers’ work in professional competition, Senior Voice staff submitted three entries to the statewide Alaska Press Women communications contest. All three won first place awards. In 1987 the Senior Voice received 28 awards, more than any other newspaper in the state.
That is enough patting us on the back for now. From time to time I will present more tidbits from the past.
Occasionally I am asked, “What does OPAG do?” Our mission statement is: “To work statewide to improve the quality of life for all Alaskans through education, advocacy and collaboration.”
Since the Senior Voice gets mailed to almost every state in this great country, we should say that we work to help seniors (and juniors) everywhere.
One the most important things that we do is provide assistance with Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and any other senior program or issue.
To that end, I am looking for a compassionate, friendly volunteer who sincerely wants to help people. If you are chosen, you will learn the ins and outs of Medicare/Medicaid, Social Security and issues of interest to seniors.
I have been volunteering for the last 17 years and they have been the most fulfilling years of my life. If you are interested, please call me. There is nothing more fulfilling than helping someone who cannot help his or her self.
Now’s the time for a wellness review
The start of spring and new beginnings is a good occasion to become proactive with your health. If you have had Medicare for more than a year, you are entitled to get your yearly wellness visit with your doctor, which will include screening tests for diabetes, colon cancer, breast cancer, osteoporosis and heart disease, etc.
If you are new to Medicare, your “Welcome to Medicare” preventive visit is now covered for free during your first 12 months of Part B coverage. This visit includes a review of your medical and social history related to your health and education and counseling about preventive services.
Medicare coverage for home health and PCA care
If you are on Medicare Part A and/or Part B and think you need home health care, and you do not have the funds to pay for it yourself, you must be under the care of a physician, and you must be getting services under a plan of care established and reviewed regularly by a doctor.
You must need and a doctor must certify that you need one or more of the following: (1) intermittent skilled nursing care (other than just drawing blood) (2) physical therapy, speech language pathology or continued occupational therapy services (3) the home health agency must be Medicare-certified (4) you must be home-bound and a doctor must certify that you are homebound.
You are not eligible for the Medicare home health benefit if you need more than part-time or “intermittent” skilled nursing care.
If you need (PCA) personal care assistance and are eligible, the cost of PCA services may be paid by Alaska Medicaid. Medicaid waivers provide services that are partially paid by the federal government. In order for your services to be paid by a waiver, you must meet specific eligibility guidelines. If a person meets these guidelines, his or her income is separated from the family’s income, thereby making him or her eligible for Medicaid and other support services.
The purpose of the waiver is to keep individuals with disabilities in their home communities and out of institutions.
You can call 269-3666 in Anchorage or 1-800-478-9996 outside of Anchorage for more information or to register for the program.
Rita Hatch volunteers for the Older Persons Action Group Medicare Assistance program. Call her at 276-1059 in Anchorage or 1-800-478-1059 toll-free outside of Anchorage, or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.