Date: July 11, 2017 | Category: News

The Care Connection delegation of the Silver Haired Legislature has named as its top two priorities a dedicated funding stream for services for older Missourians and increased monies for meals for seniors.
The No. 1 proposal, the establishment of a Senior Services Growth and Development Fund, was an idea first brought to the General Assembly by the Missouri Association of Area Agencies on Aging last session.
The goal is to address the growth in senior population and the dip in funding for senior programs. The measure was not brought to a vote by the General Assembly.
The fund would be used by the area agencies on aging for enhancing senior services. The proposal would not require a tax increase.
The No. 2 Care Connection SHL priority would increase by $3 million the money allocated for meals served in senior center dining rooms and delivered to the homebound.
The increase would help cover rising costs of purchasing food, replacing equipment, meeting operating expenses, and finding volunteers and/or staff to deliver home-delivered meals.
The Care Connection delegation will meet with its counterparts in Jefferson City in October to debate and vote on statewide priorities to be presented to the Legislature in 2018.
The Silver Haired Legislature is an advisory body of citizens ages 60 or older who volunteer to advocate for Missouri’s older adults.
The 150 delegates are elected from each of Missouri’s 10 area agencies on aging. They meet in a model legislative session at the State Capitol in October to name their priorities.
Here are five alternative proposals of the Care Connection SHL delegation:
•Restoration of the Missouri Rx program for those with Medicare only. This proposal would reauthorize the MoRx program to include those with Medicare only for another three years. Some 64,000 people lost their coverage when it was not reauthorized.
•Elder abuse awareness training. The proposal calls the state to require two hours of training for all new peace officer recruits to cover adult abuse, neglect, and exploitation, as well as the role of peace officers as mandated reporters to the state elder abuse hotline.
•Financial assistance to seniors for medically-necessary hearing aid devices, vision services, and dental care through MO HealthNet (Medicaid). Most Medicare and Medicaid plans exclude coverage of hearing aids and dentures.
•The return of money recovered from MO HealthNet for overcharges to the MO HealthNet program rather than the state’s General Revenue fund.
•Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program. This proposal would provide matching money for the USDA Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP) to help provide seniors with nutritious food at an affordable price.
Care Connection for Aging Services is a non-profit area agency on aging serving 23 locations in 13 counties in West Central Missouri, including Bates, Benton, Carroll, Cedar, Chariton, Henry, Hickory, Johnson, Lafayette, Pettis, Saline, St. Clair and Vernon. Its mission is to provide resources and services that empower people to create healthy aging experiences. For more information, call 1-800-748-7826.
Here is a list of the Silver-Haired Legislature membership:
Senators:
Shirley D. Ross, of Lexington, (Region 1) represents Lafayette, Carroll, Chariton and Saline
Nancy Maxwell, of Holden (Region 2) represents Johnson, Pettis, Henry and Benton
Judith Ball, of Adrian (Region 3) represents Hickory, Bates, Cedar, Vernon and St. Clair counties.
Edith Dilley, of Butler, represents Bates County.
Cynthia Smith, of Warsaw, represents Benton County.
Donald Brockmeier, of Carrollton, represents Carroll County.
Larry Pursley, of Stockton, represents Cedar County.
Pamelia Tietjens, of Brunswick, represents Chariton County.
Larry Steinhauser, of Clinton, represents Henry County.
William V. Arnold, of Preston, represents Hickory and St. Clair counties.
Dee Kerr, of Warrensburg, represents Johnson County.
Sue Foster, of LaMonte, represents Pettis County.
Elaine Bagnell, of Blackburn, represents Saline County.
Marlene Moran, of Sheldon, represents Vernon County.
The representative seat in Lafayette County is vacant.

Date: June 28, 2017 | Category: News

We want to share with you this bulletin from the IRS newswire:

The IRS, state tax agencies and the tax industry warned tax professionals to beware of phishing emails purporting to be from a tax software education provider and seeking extensive amounts of sensitive preparer data.

The email’s origin is unknown but likely issued by cybercriminals who could be operating from the U.S. or abroad. The email is unusual for the amount of sensitive preparer data that it seeks. This preparer information will enable the thieves to steal client data and file fraudulent tax returns.

The IRS reminds all tax professionals that legitimate businesses and organizations never ask for usernames, passwords or sensitive data via email. Nor should a preparer ever provide such sensitive information via email if asked.

All tax professionals should be aware that their e-Services credentials, the Electronic Filing Information Number (EFIN), the Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) and their Centralized Authorization File (CAF) number are extremely valuable to identity thieves. Anyone handling taxpayer information has a legal obligation to protect that data.

Because the IRS, state tax agencies and the tax industry, acting in partnership as the Security Summit, are making inroads on individual tax-related identity theft, cybercriminals increasingly target tax professionals. Thieves are looking for real client data so they can better impersonate the taxpayer when filing fraudulent returns for refunds.

The fake email uses the name of a real U.S.-based preparer education firm. Here’s the text as it appears in phishing emails being sent to tax professionals: In our database, there is a failure, we need your information about your account.

In addition, we need a photo of the driver’s license, send all the data to the letter. Please do it as soon as possible, this will help us to revive the account.

*Company Name *
*EServices Username *
*EServices Password *
*EServices Pin *
*CAF number*
*Answers to a secret question*
*EIN Number *
*Business Name
*Owner/Principal Name *
*Owner/Principal DOB *
*Owner/Principal SSN *
*Prior Years AGI
Mother’s Maiden Name

If you received or fell victim to the scam email, forward a copy to phishing@irs.gov. If you disclosed any credential information, contact the e-Services Help Desk to reset your password.

Date: June 28, 2017 | Category: News

This month, the Missouri SMP (Senior Medicare Patrol) wants you to remind you to rely on your instincts when it comes to considering this question: Does something just seem off? This question is particularly important when it comes to Durable Medical Equipment – things like wheelchairs, scooters, diabetic shoes and back braces.
These areas are particularly susceptible to fraud, which costs taxpayers BILLIONS of dollars each year.
In some cases, companies have recruited patients and then billed Medicare for more expensive equipment than they delivered. They might bill for a motorized wheelchair when a scooter was actually delivered. The durable medical equipment companies have received fraudulent authorization forms from physicians involved in the scheme. Physicians have sold fraudulent prescriptions, authorization forms, and patient information to DME companies.
As a patient and a Medicare beneficiary, you can guard against this fraud. Work with your regular doctor. If you think you need a back brace, contact your trusted primary care physician. You and your doctor are the ones that discuss what type of durable medical equipment might help you. Decline offers you get in the mail, on the phone, in the shopping malls, or at a free dinner. If something seems off, then it probably is.
As always, report suspected Medicare fraud to the Missouri SMP at (888) 515-6565. SMPs are funded through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Community Living, Administration on Aging.

Date: June 21, 2017 | Category: News

A Missouri law that will eliminate about 64,000 Medicare recipients from the Missouri Rx prescription assistance program has prompted Care Connection for Aging Service’s options counselors to help a surge in clients who are losing coverage.
Effective July 1, Missouri Rx will no longer provide benefits for those with Medicare Part D or Advantage coverage only. The Missouri Rx Program will be offered only to those who enrolled in both Medicare and Medicaid assistance.
“We have received an increased number of referrals as people are receiving written notices, and we are trying to answer the phone calls as promptly as we can,” said Rona McNally, Director of Special Projects for Care Connection.
Statewide, the change affects 64,000 people, who are receiving letters from the state notifying them of the coverage elimination this week. The program is expiring and has not been re-authorized Missouri General Assembly or governor.
Care Connection’s care managers and options counselors have been fielding phone calls from clients seeking alternate help to pay for medications. Care Connection works in partnership with CLAIM, the State Health Insurance Assistance Program, to provide free, unbiased insurance options counseling.
Only people who are losing Missouri Rx will be eligible for a special enrollment period for Medicare Part D plans. That enrollment period will be effective for two months after the expiration of coverage. Clients need to save their letters from Missouri Rx about the changes as proof of their special enrollment period eligibility.
Care Connection staff members can:
• Screen beneficiaries for extra help programs.
• Run a personalized computer search to ensure they know about their lowest-costs prescription options with a Medicare Part D plan or Medicare Advantage Plan with drug coverage.
• Make beneficiaries aware of alternative ways to get financial help for medications.
“If a new plan is not needed or the person is already in the best coverage available, we can try to find assistance programs that can help pay for some of the higher cost medications on their list,” Here are some of the patient assistance program websites:
www.rxassist.org – provides information and application links to assistance programs.
www.needymeds.org – provides information and application links to assistance programs.
www.rxoutreach.org — discount purchasing program website.
“If one of these programs does not work, the beneficiary could talk to his or her doctor or pharmacist about alternative, lower-cost medications to treat their conditions,” McNally said. “Also, some community health centers have sliding scale pharmacies with reduced prescription rates based on income. You would need to have at least one visit with one of the health center providers to be eligible for this assistance.”
Local community health centers can be found on the web at https://www.mo-pca.org/find-a-health-center.
Care Connection for Aging Services is an area agency on aging serving 13 West Central Missouri Counties, including Bates, Benton, Carroll, Cedar, Chariton, Henry, Hickory, Johnson, Lafayette, Pettis, Saline, St. Clair and Vernon. Its mission is to provide resources and services that empower people to create healthy aging experiences.

Date: June 19, 2017 | Category: News

Here is the July schedule for the Caregiver Teleconnection.

Date: June 14, 2017 | Category: News

Benton County residents were able to receive $132,674 in federal and state income tax returns and Missouri Property Tax Credits with the help of two volunteers from Care Connection for Aging Services.
Volunteers donated 196 hours to help seniors file 147 federal tax and 232 state tax returns, as well as 21 applications for the Missouri Property Tax Credit.
The volunteers worked through Care Connection’s Warsaw Senior Center in Harbor Village and Cole Camp Senior Center.
In all, Care Connection had 25 volunteers in its area who donated 1,394 hours to help 1,575 people in 13 West Central Missouri counties receive a total of $974,546 through its tax assistance program in 2017.
“This is important to the seniors individually, but the $132,674 is an incredible amount of money for the community, whether it is saved or used for goods and services,” said Care Connection Director of Tax Assistance Kathy Ray-Smith. “For the individuals receiving the property tax credit, a lot of them plan all year what they might spend that refund on, whether it be on improvements on homes, eyeglasses and dentures, or maybe to pay off a bill.”

Date: June 13, 2017 | Category: News

Care Connection understands how difficult it can be to navigate through personal finances, so we have created a monthly series called “Financial Focus.” We will feature different areas of personal finance and offer tips and information that you can use. This month we focus on the different types of debts and how to choose which ones to pay first. This information comes from the National Consumer Law Center.
There are two categories of debts: secured debts and unsecured debts. Secured debts are loans in which creditors have collateral for your loan. They know that if you do not pay, they can take the collateral from you and sell it to get their money. Loans in which creditors have no collateral are often referred to as “unsecured.” It is usually hard for these creditors to collect what they are owed unless you pay voluntarily. Because of this, unsecured debt collectors are usually very forceful and tend to harass people who are unable to pay. It is important not to let debt collection harassment force you to make decisions in the moment that may hurt you later. It is important to make your own choices about which debts to pay first based on what is best for you and your family.
Here are some tips on choosing which debts to pay first: Always pay family necessities first. This usually includes food and immediate medical expenses that are required up front for service. Next pay your housing-related bills. This includes your mortgage or rent and real estate taxes and insurance. Pay the minimum required to keep essential utility service. Pay car loans or leases next if you need to keep your car, and pay on any income tax debts you may owe. Loans without collateral are low priority. Do NOT move debt up in priority because a collector threatens to sue. Many threats to sue are not carried out. If they are, it will take a while for the collector to be able to seize your property, and much of your property may be exempt from seizure. On the other hand, nonpayment of rent, mortgage, and car debts may result in immediate loss of your home or car.
However you decide to prioritize your debts, be sure to make decisions that are best for you and your family. Do not let the pressure of a debt collector influence your decision. Care Connection has more information on debt collection, and are happy to share. Just call us at 1-800-748-7826 or ask our senior center staff.

Date: June 6, 2017 | Category: News

Cedar County residents were able to receive more than $94,000 in federal and state income tax returns and Missouri Property Tax Credits with the help of three volunteers from Care Connection for Aging Services.
Volunteers Lewis Carnes, Jim Olson and Dixie Nixon donated 99 hours to help seniors file federal tax and state tax returns as well as applications for the Missouri Property Tax Credit.
The volunteers worked through Care Connection’s Korth Center in Stockton and the El Dorado Springs Senior Center.
The Progress Club of El Dorado Springs donated $200 to pay for printer ink and paper for the program, which operated in Cedar County.
“The Progress Club contribution was important because they did underwrite all of the supplies for the volunteers for the whole county,” said Kathy Ray Smith, who directs the tax assistance program for Care Connection.
Care Connection Care Manager Melanie Shinn, a member of the Progress Club, made its 19 members aware of the need for the funding.
“We are very supportive of the community and the county,” said Progress Club President Susie Bruce said. “It’s good to give back.”
The club’s main fundraiser is its sale of Memorial Day flowers.
In all, Care Connection had 26 volunteers who donated 1,394 hours to help people in 13 West Central Missouri counties receive a total of $974,546 through its tax assistance program in 2017.
In Cedar, the volunteers donated 99 hours to assist with 31 federal tax returns, 47 state returns and 84 state property tax credit applications, Ray-Smith said. The resulting total refunds were $94,366.
“This is important to the seniors individually, but the $94,000 is an incredible amount of money for the community, whether it is saved or used for goods and services,” Ray-Smith said. “For the individuals receiving the property tax credit, a lot of them plan all year what they might spend that refund on, whether it be on improvements on homes, eyeglasses and dentures, or maybe to pay off a bill.”
Care Connection’s staff can help file Missouri Property Tax Credit applications year round. Call 1-800-748-7826 for more information.

Date: June 6, 2017 | Category: News

This month’s Missouri SMP (Senior Medicare Patrol) Fraud Fact focuses on marketers, fraudsters and scam artists who may try to trick you into buying something by using U.S. mail, AKA snail mail. As a Medicare beneficiary or someone getting ready to enroll in Medicare, you will receive a lot of pieces of mail disguised as official correspondence from Medicare.
For example, you may receive a so-called “Special Notice about Medicare and insurance information.” It may be delivered exclusively to you. It may say something like: “Our office is trying to reach you regarding your eligibility for a proven Medicare and Insurance Back Support System. Your status is pending.” And you have a “release code” and a “claim deadline”. But, guess what? This came from company trying to sell you a back brace, whether or not you need it or whether or not your Medicare plan would cover it. If you think you need such support, contact your trusted primary care physician. Don’t fall for inquiries such as this.
People who nearing 65 years old are sometimes inundated with direct mail offers that deal with Medicare. If you fall into that category, be extra careful. An insurance company might send you an official looking letter, offering you’re a free updated guide so that you can understand your rights and be aware of deadlines for taking action. They might even be using likenesses of the red, white and blue Medicare cards and official guides.
Deadlines do exist, and you do have rights, but you need not ask a private insurance agent to find out. Medicare.gov is a great website offering such information. And CLAIM, the state health insurance assistance program, can help you for free without trying to sell anything. Many area agencies on aging offer free, unbiased benefits counseling for free. Don’t be fooled by literature that looks legit. Read the fine print.As always, report suspected Medicare fraud to the Missouri SMP at (888) 515-6565. SMPs are funded through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Community Living, Administration on Aging.

Date: June 6, 2017 | Category: News

Here is a link to June’s Teleconnection Calendar for caregivers.