News for Missourians

May 2018 Fraud Prevention Fact by Missouri SMP

i May 4th No Comments by

Distribution of the new Medicare cards with unique numbers is starting. However, we probably will not receive any replacement cards in Missouri for several months. Federal officials are being a bit vague about exactly when the cards are coming because of the potential for scammers staking out mailboxes and stealing the cards. Missouri is in the last group of states in the schedule to receive the cards, so you need to be patient. It will be at least June and probably later. However, there are a couple of things you can do to get ready. One is to make sure that your address is up to date with the Social Security Administration so that you receive your card when it’s mailed. If you are an Internet user, you can establish an account on the My Medicare.gov website. If you set up that account, you can monitor the progress of the card distribution state by state. When it’s time for Missouri’s distribution, you can set your Medicare account to alert you when your card is actually mailed.

Here are a few things you do NOT want to do: Do NOT worry if a neighbor, relative or friend gets his card before you do. They are NOT being mailed according to ZIP codes etc. Do NOT give anyone your personal information over the phone. Medicare will NOT call you to request your Medicare number or any other information. Do NOT believe anybody who tells you that they can get your card faster if you pay them a fee. That is NOT going to happen and you will waste your money. Do NOT believe an insurance agent who tells you that she can get your card faster if you do business with her. That agent probably wants to get your ear to try to sell you an Advantage or Medicare supplement plan.

As always, report suspected Medicare fraud to the Missouri SMP (Senior Medicare Patrol) at (888) 515-6565.

This project was supported, in part by grant number 90MP0204, from the U.S. Administration for Community Living, Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C. 20201. Grantees undertaking projects under government sponsorship are encouraged to express freely their findings and conclusions. Points of view or opinions do not, therefore, necessarily represent official Administration for Community Living policy.

Aging Into Medicare

i Apr 11th No Comments by

“Coffee With CLAIM” is Quality Talk’s fourth Medicare-related episode, highlighting the work CLAIM does as Missouri’s State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP). Though CLAIM works in Missouri, the information presented in this episode applies to all SHIP programs and Medicare beneficiaries across the country.

CLAIM staff featured in the conversation with Quality Talk host Jodie Jackson Jr. includes Carol Beahan, CLAIM program director; Tracey Wetzel, lead trainer; Xavier Vaughn, Outreach/MIPPA project coordinator; Cindy Carr, Region 1 regional liaison; Julia Allen, Region 2 regional liaison; Stacey Childs, Region 5 regional liaison; Carolyn Prim, Region 6 regional liaison; and Elizabeth Swanson, Region 7 regional liaison.

Xavier also gives some insight and update on new Medicare cards that are coming. Find out more about new Medicare cards here or in this news-you-can-use blog post from Primarisand this news release.

Previous episodes of Quality Talk that discussed Medicare topics and questions included Episode 10, “New Medicare Cards Are Coming,” and Episode 6, “Medicare Panel Discussion.”Episode 4 featured vital information and tips for the 2017 fall Medicare open enrollment period.

New 2018 Missouri Poverty Report Available Now

i Mar 28th No Comments by

New 2018 Missouri Poverty Report Available Now

Missourians to End Poverty’s Report Highlights Poverty Factors Facing Nearly 827,000 Missourians

(JEFFERSON CITY, MO) March 28, 2018 — The Missourians to End Poverty coalition announces the release of its new 2018 Missouri Poverty Report. This 20-page report is a comprehensive snapshot of poverty statistics in Missouri, updated and expanded from the recent 2016 edition of this biennial publication.

While Missouri has seen a decline in poverty since a 10-year high of 16.2% in 2012, 14% of Missourians still live in poverty. That’s 826,358 Missourians. And many of those people are children—260,867 children according to the US Census Bureau’s 2017 poverty data. This new report from the nonpartisan coalition is designed to educate and inform the public and policy makers across Missouri and the US. The report analyzes the five elements of poverty—economic and family security, education, food and nutrition, health, and housing and energy—and the impact each has on the well-being of individuals and families. Together these elements highlight poverty’s interconnected nature and the need for multi-dimensional solutions.

The 2018 Missouri Poverty Report shows not only data regarding factors that push people into poverty—affordable housing shortages, food insecurity, and increasing health care costs, among other things—but also data on what helps lift people out of poverty—strong support systems, safety net programs, organized community efforts, employment, and tax reform. This report pulls together publicly available data from sources such as US Census Bureau, USDA, National Center for Education Statistics, US Bureau of Labor Statistics and many others to paint a holistic picture of poverty. Data and statistics found within the report include:

  • Missouri Poverty Rates by County
  • Statewide Living Wage Averages for Missouri
  • Educational Attainment in Missouri
  • Unemployment and Earnings by Educational Attainment
  • Food Insecurity, Food Affordability and Food Desert Data
  • Medical Access Across Missouri
  • Poverty and Life Expectancy
  • Adverse Childhood Experiences and Outcomes
  • Fair Market Rent, Housing Wages, and Housing Shortages
  • Safety Net Programs Lifting Missourians Out of Poverty
  • Longitudinal Benefits of Head Start Programs
  • Positive Economic Impact of Safety Net Programs

All this and more is found within the pages of the 2018 Missouri Poverty Report, which is available for download at www.communityaction.org/poverty-reports/. This publication was produced in partnership with Missouri Community Action Network, which has convened Missourians to End Poverty since the coalition was formed in 2009. All Missourians are encouraged to download the report for personal education, local outreach, advocacy and informed decision making.

Missourians to End Poverty is a coalition of individuals, advocates, businesses, faith-based organizations, non-profits and government agencies that have come together around a shared vision—the vision of a just society of shared responsibility by individuals, communities, businesses, and government in which all individuals are respected, have opportunities to reach their full potential, and are embraced as participants in thriving, diverse, sustainable communities. The members of Missourians to End Poverty work toward this vision every day.

If you would like more information about Missourians to End Poverty’s 2018 Missouri Poverty Report, please contact Missouri Community Action Network’s Director of External Affairs and Missourians to End Poverty Chairperson, Jessica Hoey, at (573) 634-2969 ext. 31, or email jhoey@communityaction.org.

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The Shoebox Project: Managing the Paperwork of Everyday Living

i Mar 26th No Comments by

CLAIM’s community partner, Shepherd’s Center Central was highlighted on National Council on Aging (NCOA) webinar in February and highlighted on their website. Read the article below.

Established in 1972, Shepherd’s Center Central in Kansas City, MO, offers a variety of programs for seniors that are primarily volunteer driven at three sites throughout the metropolitan area. The Medicare Assistance Program (MAP) is available at two locations staffed by two part-time persons and 12 certified CLAIM (Missouri State Health Insurance Assistance Program) volunteer counselors. MAP is a multi-faceted program providing Medicare/Medicaid education and individual counseling for beneficiaries and caregivers, and includes the SHOEBOX Project, which began in 2015 with a MIPPA special projects grant from CLAIM and continues today.

The idea for the SHOEBOX Project originated with the Apple Project at Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau, MO, which has been doing similar work since 1993. The name alludes to the variety of containers in which people who come in keep personal paperwork, such as a grocery bag, big purse, backpack, or a box that originally held a pair of shoes. It also attempts to generally describe the services offered:

  • Simple applications, LIS/MSP, legal forms (POAs), rent rebate claims
  • Health insurance forms, notary services
  • Organization of personal paperwork
  • Education about Medicare, Medicaid benefits
  • Budget and financial guidance and referrals
  • One-on-one confidential assistance to assure the person that we care
  • Xtra help to sort what to keep and what to throw away

Services are provided in Shepherd Center offices, or in senior centers and apartment complexes, and are always free of charge.

Who is the target audience?

The target audience of the SHOEBOX Project is primarily, though not limited to, low-income seniors and disabled persons who may have limited education or cognitive issues, vision impairment, or those for whom English is a second language who need assistance in reading and understanding various forms and letters sent to them. The goal is to be in a position to screen and enroll this population in the various benefit programs for which they may qualify.

What do they do?

Man with shoebox of papersThe project is advertised to Shepherd’s Center’s large constituency on several social media outlets, and email blasts to various partners and agencies providing services to the aging community, including social workers, coordinators in senior apartment complexes, hospital case managers, etc.  A “counter card-style” publicity flyer with a distinctive logo was developed and widely distributed.

A cloth-like document bag, imprinted with the project’s contact information, is given to each client who comes for paperwork sorting, along with a set of neatly labeled folders in which to file important documents. The goal is to assist persons with organization, form completion, and education about what is junk mail and what is important to keep, thus reducing stress levels in their lives.

In 2016, a new feature was added to make the program more accessible, which is to provide a “Walk-in Center” at one site where people can come in without an appointment to be seen by a staff member or volunteer counselor. This service has attracted many who are new to Medicare, want to compare Part D plans, or seek other types of counseling, but who are not necessarily low income.  This prompted us the addition of a monthly “lunch and learn” class called Medicare 101.  This class is purposely kept small so that the dozen or so attendees can ask questions that are related to their individual situations.

What are the results thus far?

Response to the program seems to increase each year.  In 2015, the Shepherd’s Center set a goal of reaching 50 clients; 61 people were served.

In 2016, 87 people sought the services of the SHOEBOX Project, and in 2017, 156 were seen by a counselor and provided the various services. Walk-in Center hours have been increased from three hours on two days per week, to five days per week, 9:00 am to 3:00 pm.

For more information

Joyce White
816-753-7039

February 2018 Fraud Fact by Missouri SMP

i Feb 1st No Comments by

It’s tax time, which of course brings out the scam artists. That means it’s time for a little primer from the Missouri SMP (Senior Medicare Patrol) to keep you from being a victim. Thousands of people have lost millions of dollars and personal information to scammers. First of all, if you are going to file a tax return, do so as soon as possible to keep an impostor from doing it using your information.Fraudsters use the telephone, email and snail mail to scam individuals.You need to remember that the IRS will not initiate contact with you by phone, email, text messages, Facebook or Twitter to request personal or financial information.

But, scammers claim to be IRS employees using fake names and badge ID numbers. They may change their caller ID’s so that it looks like the IRS is calling. These guys may know a lot about you. They probably found the information by Googling you. They tell you that you owe money that needs to be paid either by a gift card or wire transfer. DO NOT do it. They may threaten to have you arrested. They may tell you they are going to suspend your driver’s license. They can be hostile and insulting.
They may tell you that you have a refund coming, but ONLY if you provide your banking information for a direct transfer. They often tell you the matter is urgent. Some have even gone after deaf or hard of hearing people through video relay services.

DO NOT fall for it. The IRS does NOT demand immediate payment using a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. If you were to owe taxes, you would receive a bill in the mail.
The IRS will NOT threaten to have the police or sheriff’s office arrest you for nonpayment. The IRS will NOT demand payment without giving you a chance to question or appeal. And, they won’t ask for credit, debit or Social Security numbers over the phone. If you feel like you are a victim of a scam, report it to your police department.
As always, report suspected Medicare fraud to the Missouri (SMP) Senior Medicare Patrol at (888) 515-6565. SMPs are funded through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Community Living, Administration on Aging.

*This project was supported, in part by grant number 90MP0204, from the U.S. Administration for Community Living, Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C. 20201.

Missouri Rx Changes Effective July 1, 2017

i Jun 20th No Comments by

Missouri Rx – Missouri’s State Pharmaceutical Assistance Program has been reauthorized by the state legislature for another 5 years until August, 28, 2022.  Missouri Rx works with a person’s stand alone Part D plan or Medicare Advantage plan to pay 50% of a person’s costs at the pharmacy.  Eligibility benefits for MO Rx benefit has been reduced to only those Medicare beneficiaries that are also enrolled into Medicaid. This change affects 64,000 enrollees. Our certified counselors can help you determine your options if you have lost this benefit. You have not lost your Medicare drug coverage.

Missouri Rx coverage will no longer pay 50% of the cost of Part D prescriptions for people enrolled in Medicare whose

  • Income $21,660 for a single person or $29,140 for a couple or
  • Enrolled into Extra Help from SSA sometimes called Low-Income Subsidy (LIS).

CLAIM Counselors can provide the following.

  • If you are affected by this change you have a Special Enrollment Period for two months to change your Part D plan. Counselors can assist with the comparison and enrollment into a another plan if this is your choice.
  • Counselors can screen and provide application assistance for Low-Income Subsidy through Social Security or Medicare Savings Program.
  • Check eligibility for Patient Assistance Programs to help cover some of your higher cost medications

www.rxassist.org – provides info and application links to assistance programs

www.needymeds.org – provides info and application links to assistance programs

www.rxoutreach.org  – discount purchasing program website

  • Other options may include talking with your doctor or going to a public health center that provides a sliding fee scale for prescriptions.

 

We encourage you to call or contact us to understand any options available to you.

March is National Kidney Month

i Mar 9th No Comments by

1 in 3 American adults is at risk for kidney disease. Medicare Part B covers preventive screening tests that help detect diabetes and high blood pressure – 2 conditions that may lead to kidney damage. Visit Medicare.gov/coverage/preventive-and-screening-services.html for more information.

Medicare Part B also covers up to 6 sessions of kidney disease education services if a person has Stage IV chronic kidney disease that will usually require dialysis or a kidney transplant. For more information, visit Medicare.gov/coverage/kidney-disease-edu.html.

Scammers masquerade as Health & Human Services’ officials in new telephone scam targeting senior citizens.

i Mar 3rd No Comments by

A telephone scam in which crooks alter caller ID to make it seem as if the call is coming from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ Office of the Inspector General’s Hotline 1-800-HHS-TIPS (1-800-447-8477) to get beneficiaries and members of the public to verify or share personal info which is used to victimize them via financial and other crimes – draining their bank accounts. The Office of the Inspector General wants the public to know that the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ Office of the Inspector General will not use the Hotline telephone number to make outgoing calls and individuals should not answer calls from 1-800-HHS-TIPS (1-800-447-8477).

The Office of the Inspector General recently confirmed that the Hotline telephone number is being used as part of a telephone spoofing scam targeting individuals throughout the country. These scammers represent themselves as Department of Health & Human Services’ Hotline employees and can alter the appearance of the caller ID to make it seem as if the call is coming from the Department of Health & Human Services’ Office of the Inspector General Hotline. The perpetrator may use various tactics to obtain or verify the victim’s personal information, which can then be used to steal money from an individual’s bank account or for other fraudulent activity. The Office of the Inspector General takes this matter seriously. We are actively investigating this matter and intend to have the perpetrators prosecuted.

It is important to know that the Department of Health & Human Services’ Office of the Inspector General will not use the Hotline telephone number to make outgoing calls and individuals should not answer calls from 1-800-HHS-TIPS (1-800-447-8477). We encourage the public to remain vigilant, protect their personal information, and guard against providing personal information during calls that purport to be from the Hotline telephone number. We also remind the public that it is still safe to call into the Hotline to report fraud.  We particularly encourage those who believe they may have been a victim of the telephone spoofing scam to report that information to us through the Hotline, 1-800-HHS-TIPS (1-800-447-8477) or spoof@oig.hhs.gov. Individuals may also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).

If you would to learn more, visit: https://oig.hhs.gov/fraud/consumer-alerts/alerts/phone-scam.asp

Joplin TV news station shines a spotlight on CLAIM’s efforts

i Feb 10th No Comments by

Joplin TV news station shines a spotlight on CLAIM’s efforts

JOPLIN, Mo. – Now until December seventh is annual open enrollment. If you’re enrolled in Part D, Medicare’s drug coverage, you have the chance to either switch or stick with that insurance.

Karen Wells and her husband visited Mercy Hospital Joplin Friday to speak with CLAIM, the Missouri State Health Insurance Assistance Program about being enrolled in Part D, Medicare’s drug coverage.

“Confused, cause there’s so many plans and I work in the health care field, but still it’s all like Greek to me. So she helped to dispel a little bit of that and told me how they’ll use a computer and input a lot of our data and tell us which plans will probably be best for us,” Wells says.

Experts say from year to year, coverage changes, which means providers may not carry the same prescription drugs or the cost of coverage may increase. And it can get very confusing for the average person.

“We can’t imagine someone that doesn’t deal with this all the time to even understand it and the problem being if they don’t understand it and they don’t make necessary changes now, they’re in it for a year, so they can be out a lot of money simply from one little mistake,” Stacy Childs, Claim Missouri Regional Liaison Trainer for the Southwest District of Missouri.

To read the full story, click here.

Social Security and Veterans Affairs Partnership Means Faster Disability Decisions for Veterans

i Nov 22nd No Comments by

Today, the Social Security Administration announces the launch of a new Health IT initiative with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) that enables all Social Security disability case processing sites to receive medical records electronically from all VA facilities. Veterans will receive a faster decision on their Social Security disability claim, speeding them and their dependents through this new process. Both agencies will save time and money with an automatic request through the eHealth Exchange.

“President Obama has said, ‘we must maintain the sacred covenant we share with our veterans by ensuring they have the care and benefits they deserve,’ and I could not agree more,” said Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security. “We are committed to providing our veterans with the world class service they so richly deserve and improving the speed and efficiency of our disability program.”

The new Health IT program was tested successfully at Social Security locations around the country. On Veteran’s Day, November 11, the eHealth Exchange will go live, nationally, to all Social Security disability case processing sites.

Social Security requests nearly 15 million medical records annually from healthcare providers and organizations to make medical decisions on about three million disability claims. Medical documentation is essential to make a disability determination. Historically, the agency obtained medical records through a manual process (mail, fax, secure mail). This new national initiative puts in place an automated process to obtain medical records electronically without human intervention.

“VA is currently improving quality of life by enabling Veterans to share their health information with federal partners and integrating their data into a safe and secure health-related consumer application,” said Dr. David Shulkin, Under Secretary for Health of the Department of Veterans Affairs. “Currently, when eligible Veterans apply for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits the average wait time for Social Security to receive paper records from VA can take months; this partnership allows Social Security and VA to share the Veteran’s health information electronically in minutes. The Social Security and VA partnership allows VA to continue to be a leader in interoperability efforts among federal partners while improving overall quality of life for our Veteran patients.”

This partnership adds the VA to Social Security’s more than 50 other Health IT partners, including the Department of Defense, in approximately 7,000 facilities across the United States providing electronic health records. Social Security’s goal is to continue expanding the number of healthcare organizations and federal agencies providing electronic health records within a safe and secure environment.

To learn more about Health IT, please visit www.socialsecurity.gov/disabilityssi/hit.

Social Security offers two other programs to expedite disability claims filed by veterans. Wounded Warriors and veterans with a VA disability compensation rating of 100% Permanent & Total have their Social Security disability claims treated as high priority and receive expedited decisions. For more information about these programs, please visit www.socialsecurity.gov/people/veterans.

To get more Social Security news, follow the Press Office on Twitter @SSAPress.