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Medicare Takes Aim at Medical Identity Theft

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To Your Health

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Family Features) Criminals are increasingly targeting people age 65 or older for personal identity theft. In 2014 alone, there were 2.6 million such incidents among seniors, according to the Department of Justice.

A growing offshoot of identity theft is healthcare fraud, which can result when someone unlawfully uses another person’s Medicare number. Medical identity theft can lead to inaccuracies in medical records, which in turn can result in delayed care, denied services and costly false claims.

That’s why Medicare works with the Department of Justice, taking aim squarely at would-be thieves. In the largest law enforcement action against criminals fraudulently targeting the Medicare, Medicaid and Tricare programs, 412 people around the country, including 115 doctors, nurses and other licensed medical professionals, were charged in 2017 with bilking U.S. taxpayers out of $1.3 billion.

The next big fraud-fighting push is well underway — and its focus is protecting the personal information of senior citizens by removing their Social Security numbers from Medicare cards.

People with Medicare don’t need to take any action to get a new Medicare card. Beginning in April, 2018, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will mail out newly designed Medicare cards to the 58 million Americans with Medicare. The cards will have a new number that will be unique for each card recipient. This will help protect personal identity and prevent fraud because identity thieves can’t bill Medicare without a valid Medicare number. To help with a seamless transition to the new cards, providers will be able to use secure look up tools that will support quick access to the new card numbers when needed.

Healthcare fraud drives up costs for everyone, but healthcare consumers can be an effective first line of defense against fraud. Follow these tips to help protect yourself:

Do

  • Treat your Medicare number like a credit card.
  • When the new card comes in the mail next year, destroy your old card and make sure you bring your new one to your doctors’ appointments.
  • Be suspicious of anyone offering early bird discounts, limited time offers or encouraging you to act now for the best deal. That’s an indicator of potential fraud because Medicare plans are forbidden from offering incentives.
  • Be skeptical of free gifts, free medical services, discount packages or any offer that sounds too good to be true.
  • Only give your Medicare number to doctors, insurers acting on your behalf or trusted people in the community who work with Medicare, like your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP).
  • Report suspected instances of fraud.
  • Check your Medicare statements to make sure the charges are accurate.

Don’t

  • Don’t share your Medicare number or other personal information with anyone who contacts you by telephone, email or approaches you in person, unless you’ve given them permission in advance. Medicare will never contact you uninvited and request your Medicare number or other personal information.
  • Don’t let anyone borrow or pay to use your Medicare number.
  • Don’t allow anyone, except your doctor or other Medicare providers, to review your medical records or recommend services.
  • Don’t let anyone persuade you to see a doctor for care or services you don’t need.
  • Don’t accept medical supplies from a door-to-door salesman.

Learn more about how you can fight Medicare fraud at Medicare.gov/fraud, or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). You can also visit a local SHIP counselor, who can provide free, one-on-one, non-biased Medicare assistance.

With a common sense approach to protecting health information, senior citizens can be effective partners in fighting Medicare fraud.

 

By Seema Verna, CMS Administrator

 

November 8, 2017 |

Film Favorites Worth Sharing

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Bits & Pieces Column

Helpful Chitchat

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel

 

 

 

We recently attended the annual Hampton International Film Festival (HIFF), which is a five-day event of films and special programs. With more than one hundred-fifty films and shorts to pick from, it’s difficult to pick which films to see.

On opening night we saw a fabulous film, Itzhak, a documentary about famed violinist Itzhak Perlman. The life story of this “greatest living violinist” captures the audience from its start, and high praise is deserved for director/producer Alison Chernick for this accomplishment. The story is told with vintage photographs, film clips and current interviews of Mr. Perlman and his wife Toby in their New York City apartment. Toby is also an accomplished violinist, and they met when both attended violin camp as teens one summer.

Itzhak was born in Tel Aviv to parents who were natives of Poland. The family moved to the United States when he was a boy of only ten so he could study at Julliard. Having contracted polio when he was only three, it was a difficult start that he overcame when his musical genius was recognized. Throughout the film, viewers saw and heard the fantastic personality of Itzhak Perlman shine through despite the hardship of his early life and illness.

Some HIFF films go on to be shown in theatres while others might be shown on cable or Netflix. Presented by The American Masters series on PBS TV stations, watch out for broadcast dates for Itzhak, so you don’t miss it!

Another film, Goodbye Christopher Robin, is the life story of author A.A. Milne. This is a sensitive portrayal of the little boy who was the subject in his father’s Winnie the Pooh book series. Milne was inspired to write his stories after seeing his only child playing with his stuffed animals. One might think this film is how whimsical and happy Christopher’s life must have been during the years this book series started and hit peek popularity; however, viewers are quickly immersed in Christopher’s life and come to see that the fame was not something we’d come to envy.

Newcomer Will Tilson (Christopher Robin) is absolutely adorable, and his dimpled smile melts your heart. The strong performances by Domhall Gleeson as A.A. Milne and Margot Robbie as Christopher’s mother complete this sensitive, enchanting and touching story. You will never look at storybook characters and the fame it brought its authors the same way again.

Read about other films in this year’s HIFF festival that might be in theaters soon. http://hamptonsfilmfest.org

 

November 8, 2017 |

Visit Washington’s Headquarters During Thanksgiving Weekend and Create Your Own Bookplate

Comments Off on Visit Washington’s Headquarters During Thanksgiving Weekend and Create Your Own Bookplate

 

 

 

 

After all the festive dining, football games and parade floats, Washington’s Headquarters State Historic Site, in Newburgh, invites you to get out of the house and explore General Washington’s Headquarters on Saturday, November 24th and Sunday, November 25th, 11 AM until 3 PM.

Tour the historic Hasbrouck House where General and Mrs. Washington, several aides, guards, servants and slaves were housed during the last 16 ½ months of the Revolutionary War. While there, visit our Museum that houses over 1,300 artifacts.

Stop by our Community Gallery and design your own take-home craft, a personalized bookplate for your favorite book as a reminder of your visit to the first publicly owned historic site in the nation. We’ll even provide sample designs for additional inspiration!

Admission is $4.00 for adults, $3.00 for seniors and students and children 12 and under are free. The craft is free with museum admission.

For further information call 845-562-1195.

November 1, 2017 |

Making the Most of Medicare Open Enrollment

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To Your Health

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Family Features) Eating well and regular exercise are part of a healthy lifestyle, and so is making sure you have the right health care coverage. Medicare’s annual Open Enrollment period is a good time to review your current coverage and decide if there may be a better fit based on changes to current plans, your budget or health needs.

During Medicare Open Enrollment, which runs Oct. 15-Dec. 7, 2017, you can enroll in or make changes to your Medicare health or prescription drug plan for coverage that begins Jan. 1, 2018. If you miss the deadline, you will likely have to wait a full year before you are able to make changes to your plan.

To make Medicare Open Enrollment part of your healthy lifestyle, follow these five steps:

  1. Review your current plan notice. Read any notices from your Medicare plan about changes for next year, especially your “Annual Notice of Change” letter. Look at your plan’s information to make sure your drugs are still covered and your doctors are still in network.
  2. Think about what matters most to you. Medicare health and drug plans change each year and so can your health needs. Do you need a new primary care doctor? Does your network include the specialist you want for an upcoming surgery? Does your current plan cover your new medication? Does another plan offer the same coverage at a lower cost? Take stock of your health status and determine if you need to make a change.
  3. Find out if you qualify for help paying for Medicare. Learn about programs in your state to help with the costs of Medicare premiums (through Medicare Savings Programs), your Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) and Medicare Part B (medical insurance) deductibles, coinsurance and copayments, and Medicare prescription drug coverage costs (through Extra Help). Visit Medicare.gov or call your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) to learn more.
  4. Shop for plans that meet your needs and fit your budget. Starting each October, you can use Medicare’s Plan Finder tool at Medicare.gov/find-a-plan to see what plans are offered in your area. A new plan may:
  • Cost less
  • Cover your drugs
  • Let you go to the providers you want, like your doctor or pharmacy.

If you find your current coverage still meets your needs, then you’re done. Remember, during Medicare Open Enrollment, you can decide to stay in Original Medicare or join a Medicare Advantage Plan. If you’re already in a Medicare Advantage Plan, you can switch back to Original Medicare.

  1. Check your plan’s Star Rating before you enroll. The Medicare Plan Finder is up-to-date with the Star Ratings for Medicare health and prescription drug plans. Plans are given an overall quality rating on a 1-5 star scale, with 1 being the lowest performing and 5 stars representing excellent performance. You can use Star Ratings to compare the quality of health and drug plans being offered.

For more information, visit medicare.gov or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) and say “Agent.” TTY users can call 1-877-486-2048. Help is available 24 hours a day, including weekends. You can also get personalized health insurance counseling at no cost to you from your SHIP by visiting shiptacenter.org.

 

Information provided by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

 

 

 

November 1, 2017 |

Sweet Seasonal Treats for Fall

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In Good Taste

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Family Features) Crisp fall days call for flavorful desserts that warm you from the inside out. There’s no better way to capture the flavor of fall than with dishes that celebrate traditional seasonal favorites like cinnamon, spice and tart, juicy apples.

These desserts are perfect for fall, and a secret ingredient makes them quick and easy so you have plenty of free time to work up an appetite and earn an extra bite (or two). Apple butter is more than just a spread for toast; it’s a versatile ingredient that can enhance your favorite recipes. With Musselman’s Apple Butter, made the old-fashioned way for perfect texture and a deep, rich flavor, you can make it simple to satisfy your craving for a taste of autumn at its best.

Find more fall tips and recipes perfect for sharing with your family at musselmans.com.

Caramel Crumble Bars

1          box (15 1/4 ounces) yellow cake mix, dry

1/2       cup butter, softened, plus 2 tablespoons, divided

3/4       cup Musselman’s Apple Butter, plus 3 tablespoons

1          egg

1          package (11 ounces) caramels, unwrapped

2/3       cup walnuts, chopped

2/3       cup flaked coconut, sweetened

2          tablespoons butter, melted

Heat oven to 350 F. Grease 13-by-9-inch baking pan.

With electric mixer on low speed, beat dry cake mix and 1/2 cup softened butter until mixture is crumbly. Spoon 1 cup cake mix mixture into medium bowl; set aside.

Add 3/4 cup apple butter and egg to remaining mixture. Beat on medium speed until smooth and creamy.

Spread evenly into pan. Bake 20 minutes, or until starting to brown and top is set.

Place caramels, 2 tablespoons butter and remaining apple butter in microwavable bowl. Microwave on high 3-4 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds until smooth and melted.

Pour caramel mixture evenly over partially baked crust. If caramel has cooled and set, microwave 1 minute until soft and pourable.

Combine walnuts, coconut and 2 tablespoons melted butter with reserved cake mix mixture. Mix until crumbly.

Break up topping and sprinkle evenly over caramel.

Bake 16-18 minutes, or until topping is starting to brown. Cool completely before cutting into bars.

 

Easy Apple Pie Bars

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 1 hour

Servings: 20

Nonstick cooking spray

7          cups Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and diced

1          cup Musselman’s Apple Butter

1 1/2    teaspoons vanilla extract, divided

1/2       cup brown sugar

2          frozen pie crusts, defrosted

1          egg white

2          tablespoons sugar

1/2       teaspoon ground cinnamon

1          cup powdered sugar

2          tablespoons milk

Heat oven to 350 F. Grease 9-by-13-inch pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Place diced apples in large mixing bowl. Add apple butter, 1 teaspoon vanilla and brown sugar. Mix until apples are evenly coated.

Place one pie crust in bottom of greased pan. Slowly stretch out crust to cover pan’s bottom. Cut some edges off, if necessary. Spread apple filling evenly over crust.

With rolling pin, roll second crust to make it same size as pan. Place second crust on top of apple pie filling and tuck down edges to cover.

To make topping: In small bowl, whisk egg white until foamy and brush over crust. In another bowl, combine sugar and cinnamon, and sprinkle evenly over crust.

Bake 50-60 minutes until crust is golden brown. Remove from oven and cool slightly before cutting.

To make glaze: In small bowl, combine powdered sugar, milk and remaining vanilla, and whisk until smooth. Drizzle over cooled bars and serve.

November 1, 2017 |
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