How about some updates? Information is a lot like stuff you may find in your refrigerator - it may have been good at one time, but now? One of the biggest differences is that you can usually tell if something is suspect in the fridge - growing its own stuff, glowing in the dark, moving around or other interesting behaviors. Information, on the other hand, may still look good, but ...

Of course one area of the ever-changing information scenery is Medicare Part D. One of the most recent glitches involves enrollment of folks who have the Low Income Subsidy (LIS). A lot of the people who enrolled themselves, were assisted by us or others, received their cards and were on their way, hit a bump in the road - and not of their own doing. CMS (Center for Medicare-Medicaid Services) auto-enrolled eligible clients. Sounds like a nice idea, except it created a mess in some instances.

Let's say Mrs. Jones had been previously enrolled with the company of her choice, and along came CMS to help by auto-enrolling her. Well, since she can't be in two programs, the auto enrollment "bumped" Mrs. Jones out of her previous plan. And like most of us, Mrs. Jones isn't pleased when something is done and then undone. That's the bad news.

The good news is that CMS caught it and has restored Mrs. Jones - and others - to the plan they chose. They were able to stop a lot of the mailings that were going out, and have found a solution so that will not happen again (hopefully).

Another update - this time about Medicaid standards. We've talked in past columns about Medicaid In-Home Care programs and feel free to give us a call about more information on these programs. For this week's purposes, let's just review a few key points and the updated income standard.

Medicaid In-Home Care programs (a lot of folks think of this as COPES, which is one of the programs) is designed to assist clients to remain home and maintain a relatively high level of independence. The alternative for these people would be a facility to insure safety and needs being met. Basically, eligibility has two parts: functional eligibility and financial eligibility.

Functional eligibility relates to how much assistance is needed in Activities of Daily Living (ADL's). These are areas like ambulation, toileting, medication management, transfers, bathing and so on. If you are unable to perform these tasks independently (and safely), you may meet the "functional" eligibility part.

Financial eligibility relates to income and (liquid) assets. In other words, assets do not include house, car, the aforementioned refrigerator, etc. It does include bank accounts, some insurances, stocks and so on. For a single person, the income level as of this month is approximately $1,809/month, and the assets must be at or below $2,000.

Now, there are a lot of details in the financial area that include variances, married folks and so on - and not being a financial worker, I won't even attempt to look at these exceptions.

If this looks like the situation you find yourself (or Mom, Dad, Uncle Fred) in, you can contact Home and Community Services (HCS) and ask for an in-home assessment. These programs have helped a lot of folks remain home when the alternative is leaving. For north Pacific County, the intake number is (800) 487-0119. In south Pacific County, call (800) 605-7322. You'll talk to real, live people who know their stuff and want to help. They may even help you decide whatever that is in the fridge!

Senior Information & AssistanceLong Beach: 642-3634 or (888) 571-6558

Raymond: 942-2177 or (888) 571-6557

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