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Gray Matters

Fraud Warning 3 Unkindest Cut 4 Legislative Watch 5 Volunteer Opportunities 6

A quarterly publication of Area 1 Agency on Aging

Mark the Calendar for Oct. 15; Part D Prescription Drug Plan Enrollment Starts Next Week


n earlier start and longer enrollment period are scheduled for the sixth year of the Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan, but the manager of the Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program (HICAP) still worries that beneficiaries will miss the boat. “We want everyone to know: you must compare the plan changes for the coming year to figure out what plan gives you the best coverage for the best price,” Martha Johnson said last week. “A plan that worked for you this year may not work next year. It may or may not be okay — the only way to know is to compare all the plans.” Enrollment begins October 15 and runs through December 7. The 54-day period is a week

longer than the Nov. 15 to Dec. 31 enrollment cycle that existed in the program’s previous five years. Johnson said ending the annual enrollment period on Dec. 7 gives insurance companies time to process changes before they go into effect on Jan. 1. Plan changes were available online at on Oct. 1 – after the Gray Matters press deadline of Sept. 30. Medicare is running public service announcements on radio and television to remind beneficiaries of the changes and enrollment period. HICAP sent postcard reminders to make an appointment to compare plans to people it counseled in the past year. “Premiums change. Deduct-

ibles change. Plans change the drugs they cover and the prices charged for those drugs,” Johnson said. “You must compare every year to avoid what could be a costly surprise in January.” “There have been some sad stories this year – many of them because people didn’t pick up their mail,” HICAP counselor Susie Hendry said. “One client never saw the Annual Notice of Change from their health insurance carrier; another said the caregiver never saw it. Another moved and the mail never caught up with him. Then they went in to get a prescription filled and found out the plan isn’t there anymore or the drug they

U.S Grandparents Percent by Age, 2010

Fall 2011

needed wasn’t covered.” Hendry recalled one client visiting in January – after his failure to check plan changes at the end of 2010 led to an unexpected $1,200 hike to his medication expenses come 2011. “We couldn’t do anything to fix it for him until the (coming) enrollment period,” Hendry said. “It’s sad – and completely avoidable. It pays to deal with it now.” Plan changes are nothing new for the optional benefit that 

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45-54 20%

55-64 34%

75+ 20%

65-74 26%

Source: MetLife Market Institute; U.S. Census population estimates



Medicare continued from previous page

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began January 1, 2006 with passage of the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003. For starters, the number of plans available nationally dropped from 1,688 in 2009 to 1,007 in 2011. During the same three-year period, the number of plans with no deductible dropped roughly 58 percent nationally and fell from 29 in California in 2009 to 13 in 2011. “Those are big changes, but some people are still surprised every January when the new plans go into effect,” Johnson said. In August, HICAP started scheduling free individual appointments to review plans. Within four weeks of mailing reminder cards to beneficiaries, nearly half of the appointments were filled. “If we can’t get you an appointment, we’ll mail out a worksheet asking for information about your prescription drug needs,” Johnson said. “When we get that worksheet back, we’ll figure out the best choices and mail it back to you. Then you can contact Medicare or the plan to assist with changes.” Medicare agents are available around the clock during the en-

rollment period at 1-800-6334227 (more easily remembered as 1-800-MEDICAR). Callers should have on hand their Medicare card and a complete list of medications and dosages. HICAP has also scheduled a workshop titled “How to Use the Medicare Website to Find the Best Drug Plan” from 4-5 p.m. on Oct. 6 and 13. No reservations are required, but seating is limited. Meant for do-it-yourselfers, the workshop is conducted at Area I Agency on Aging at 434 Seventh Street in Eureka. To request an appointment or worksheet, call HICAP at 707-444-3000 in Humboldt County or 707-464-7876 in Del Norte County. “For something that is supposed to be helping seniors, the prescription drug plan is so complicated,” Hendry said. “We’re here to help, but we can’t help if you don’t call.” During last year’s enrollment period, the HICAP staff of three full-time and 15 parttime employees and volunteers conducted 1,488 counseling appointments, handled 2,251 phone calls and saved clients and taxpayers almost $1.3 million, Johnson said. 

Got Mail? It’s not from Medicare. The law forbids insurance representatives from coming to the homes of Medicare beneficiaries unless they are invited. Your signature on the bottom of a post card (see picture) from the National Processing Center is considered an invitation. “It is nothing official from Medicare or the government,” said Martha Johnson, program manager for AIAA’s Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program. “We believe these are sent out on behalf of insurance salespeople as a way to get leads for potential customers. Sign it and you’ll get phone calls and visits from insurance people.” For unbiased, free help in understanding Medicare, call HICAP at 444-3000.

Extra Medicare Help Available California has 1.2 million Medicare beneficiaries getting extra financial help on one of five Part D prescription drug plans in 2011 – a 20 percent increase from the 1 million who got help in 2010. “That’s only the tip of the iceberg,” said Martha Johnson, manager of Area I Agency on Aging’s Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program. “Medicare statistics suggest there are several hundred Humboldt and Del Norte County residents who have difficulty paying for Medicare programs, live on fixed incomes and could get help if they came in to enroll.” Some seniors are unaware that their homes and first car do not count against them when extra help assessments are made. An individual with monthly income of $1,361 – and couple with a combined income of $1,839 – qualify for a Part D subsidy as long as their additional resources don’t exceed $12,640 (single) and $25,260 (couple). Call HICAP at 444-3000 for help.

Local Grandparents Shine in KEET Documentary


ore than half the nation’s 70 million Baby Boomers are grandparents, but Fortuna’s Carl Young, Eureka’s Kelly Remington, and Arcata’s Barbara Davis are pulling double duty. They are among the 2.9 million grandparents with full responsibility for their grandchildren. “Skipping Generations: Grandparents Raising Grandchildren” is a half-hour documentary about the trio. It will make its public television debut at 7 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 6 on KEET-TV. College of the Redwoods’ FosterKinship Care Education program will air a premiere screening on Saturday, Nov. 5 at Arts! Alive. Times are TBA, but admission is free at 333 Sixth Street in Eureka, six blocks from the heart of Old Town. The American Community Survey reports 3,000 grandparents in

Humboldt and Del Norte counties reside with grandchildren under age 18 – and 41 percent are responsible for those children. Nationwide, 4.9 million children are living in grandparentheaded households, a 10 percent increase in the past decade. “Those are just the ones we know about,” Area 1 Agency on Aging Executive Director Cindy Denbo said. “Most of us know many other grandparents who are informally raising their grandchildren and don’t want to talk about it or can’t.” The documentary outlines the isolation, lack of resources, and multiple challenges faced by grandparents who become the safety net that keeps children out of foster care and with their families. Area 1 Agency on Aging and KEET-TV co-produced the project. 

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Adult Day Health Care: The Unkindest Cut Cindy Denbo, Executive Director, Area I Agency on Aging

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The Assembly’s leading authority on aging issues could use some help. In March, Assembly member Mariko Yamada, Chair of the Assembly Committee on Aging and Long-Term Care since 2009, joined every other Democrat in the Assembly in a vote to support Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal to eliminate the optional Adult Day Health Care (ADHC) benefit in California. “It is a vote I regret daily,” Yamada says. That voted initiated the destruction of one of the most useful options for support and assistance for seniors and people with disabilities. In Humboldt County, ADHC serves 206 people: half of whom have dementia or developmental disabilities and 70 percent of whom need skilled nursing care. Statewide, 55,000 people – roughly 37,000 people a day

– rely on ADHC. The respite and skilled care provided one or a few days a week enables these fragile seniors to remain living in their homes and near their families. According to Yamada, the vote was founded on the goodfaith belief that a smaller program based on medical acuity would be provided in its place to care for the low-income, elderly and disabled Californians currently in ADHC. Assembly member Bob Blumenfield and others worked for months to develop “Keeping Adults Free from Institutions (KAFI).” Yamada and many of her fellow legislators supported Brown’s ADHC elimination believing that he would support AB 96, which would have funded KAFI with alreadybudgeted funds of $85 million supplemented with a 100 percent federal match. But In July the governor vetoed AB 96. The scaled-down,

Legislative Watch less expensive KAFI program, which would have helped only the most needy of seniors, vanished along with the confidence that good faith promises would be kept. Forty years ago, the people of California pioneered a network of daytime support for the state’s most frail seniors as a response to widely-publicized and discouraging stories of nursing home abuse. That network of support is being systematically destroyed. ADHC is a vital benefit for all of us, taxpayers included. Without it, many seniors will be forced into nursing homes — at great personal cost to them and their families and at great economic cost to us all. A Congress of California Seniors study estimates the increased annual cost of premature institutionalization to the state will be $51.6 million. The impact on families will also be significant as children of frail seniors struggle to provide assistance while raising their own children, holding down their own jobs and watching their retirement savings melt away. The ADHC cut will result in collateral damage to retirement savings, college funds and community resources already stretched perilously

thin. How can we fail to consider the costs of more visits to hospital emergency rooms, increases in job and school absenteeism, and the anticipated surge in law enforcement responses as fraud and elder abuse further harm those least able to protect themselves? And there’s the responsibility we share when the frailest among us suffer from isolation, self-neglect, illness, and in some cases, death. This is the latest — and most damaging — blow dealt by our governor to California’s once-reliable and collaborative system of care for the fragile elderly. It is disappearing for the most vulnerable now. If it is destroyed, it will not be there for the huge and aging population of Boomers — and it will not be there for their Gen X children who will find their own futures compromised. Yamada continues to fight for ADHC. Call her. Call the Governor. Call Toby Douglas, Director of the Department of Health Care Services. He has the power to delay the cut until March. If you don’t know how or are unable to make contact, call the Project for Senior Action at 441-0449 or e-mail at for help. 

AB 574 (Lowenthal/Chesbro): Increases the number of PACE programs from 10 to 15 programs Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) is a comprehensive managed care system for nursing home eligible seniors age 55 and over. This program offers a full range of long term care services to recipients and receives payment from Medicare and Medicaid for low-income participants. It is administered through the California Department of Health Services and provides a substantial cost savings to the state and federal government compared to 24-hour skilled nursing care. Humboldt Senior Resource Center is currently preparing an application for a PACE program in Humboldt and Del Norte Counties. 

SB 930 (Evans): Deletes the requirements to obtain fingerprints of In-Home Support Services recipients Bill is projected to save $41.6 million – half from the General Fund – in seven years. Proponents believe there is no widespread evidence of fraud, citing Department of Health Care Services’ numbers for fiscal year 2010. Of the 447,635 recipients and 405,328 providers in IHSS, DHCS received 2,548 complaints (.5 percent of recipients), opened 193 criminal investigations, closed 107 of them without action and referred 51 complaints to the Department of Justice. Additionally, a survey of nine counties that include 70 percent of IHSS caseload identified $4.15 million in overpayments (which include fraud and clerical errors) in one year – less than 0.1 percent of the $5.7 billion program. 

AB 518 (Wagner) and SB 33 (Simitian) Deletes the statutory sunset (Jan. 1, 2013) of financial abuse reporting requirements. 

 AB 507 (Hiyashi) Makes technical and conforming changes to existing law related to pain management and controlled substances.

The AIAA Advisory Council recommends support of these proposed bills. If you wish to support, oppose or otherwise comment on legislation impacting seniors and the disabled, contact AIAA’s Project for Senior Action at 441-0449 or PSA provides contact information or sends your message in your words where you want it to go.



Holiday Volunteer Opportunities 2011


he Volunteer Center of the Redwoods & RSVP works with more than 300 organizations actively seeking help – your help. Following is a small sampling of current volunteer opportunities available in Humboldt and Del Norte counties. If you have time and interest, the Volunteer Center of the Redwoods & RSVP has a place that needs your help. In Del Norte County, find us at 1765 Northcrest Drive in Crescent City, 95531. Phone 464-7876, fax 464-7877 or e-mail In Humboldt County, find us at 434 Seventh St. in Eureka, 95501. Phone 442-3711, fax 442-3714 or e-mail

Friends of the Dunes: Volunteers Needed WHAT: Volunteers needed for various restoration projects. WHEN: Every Saturday WHERE: Different locations, check the website at http://www. WHO: YOUTH FRIENDLY: Yes 

Humboldt Botanical Garden Foundation WHAT: Volunteers needed on Saturdays to help with the gardens. Help install plants, pull weeds, perform maintenance or other garden tasks. WHEN: Every Saturday WHERE: The Humboldt Botanical Garden is adjacent to the College of the Redwoods via exit 698 off Hwy 101; proceed to the North Entrance of CR and make a left up the hill. WHO: Please call 442-5139 or e-mail, YOUTH FRIENDLY: Yes 

Toys for Tots: Needs Volunteers WHAT: Help bring the joy of Christmas to 4,800 children in Humboldt County. Volunteers with administrative skills are needed to register our schools so that low-income kids can be part of Toys for Tots. WHEN: Call for details. WHERE: Eureka WHO: Gregg Gardiner at 834-9595 WEBSITE: lco-sites/default.asp 

Salvation Army Holiday: “Bell Ringers” Needed Ring the bell and help the Salvation Army raise funds for their programs. WHAT: Ring bells in front of local businesses to help Salvation Army 


raise funds for its programs. WHEN: Sign up for shifts WHERE: 2123 Tydd Street, Eureka WHO: Contact Captain Tim Smith at 442-6475 Humboldt Senior Resource Center: Holiday Volunteers WHAT: The Humboldt Senior Resource Center is seeking volunteers to help in the kitchen and dining room. WHEN: Flexible WHERE: 1910 California St., Eureka WHO: Call Tina Taylor 443-9747 ext. 1235 WEBSITE: 

Assisted Living & Skilled Nursing Facilities WHAT & WHEN: Volunteers can help with tasks throughout November and December such as gift wrapping and distribution; tree trimming; holiday meals. Also needed: carolers and musicians; people to conduct activities or to visit and share a warm heart with residents. Call the activities director at the following for details. WHERE & WHO: • Skilled Healthcare-Granada, 2885 Harris, Eureka, Angie Mattingly, 443-1627 • Skilled Healthcare-Pacific, 2211 Harrison, Eureka, Megan Bonham, 443-9767 • Skilled Healthcare-Sea View, 6400 Purdue, Eureka, 443-5668 • St Luke’s, 2321 Newburg Road, Fortuna, 725-4467 • Skilled Healthcare-Sunset, 2353 23rd, Eureka, Patty Reis, 445-3261 • Timber Ridge Eureka, 2740 Timber Ridge Lane, Margie Kelley, 443-3000 • Alder Bay Retirement Community, 1355 Myrtle Ave, Eureka, Kelsey Kennard 444-8000 

Eureka Rescue Mission Holiday Dinners: Volunteers for Meal Service Volunteers needed for set-up, service, and clean up. 

WHAT: Free dinner for all with vegetarian options. Volunteers needed for set up, service and clean up. WHEN: Christmas Dinner served TBA WHERE: 110 Second St., Eureka. WHO: Call Joe at 445-3787 Annual Holiday Craft Market: Volunteers Needed The Arcata Recreation Division is looking for volunteers to help with the Annual Holiday Craft Market. WHAT: The Arcata Recreation Division is looking for volunteers to help with the Annual Holiday Craft Market. Join the tidings for holiday music, food and great shopping with a wide variety of handcrafted gift items. WHEN: December 10 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m .and December 11, 2011 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. WHERE: Arcata Community Center, 321 Community Park Way, Arcata WHO: For details, please contact Heather Schmidt at the City of Arcata, Recreation Division at 822-7091 

St. Vincent de Paul’s Holiday Meals: Volunteers for Meal Service WHAT: Help set up and serve the Christmas meal WHEN: Call for more information WHERE: 528 Second St., Eureka WHO: Call 445-9588, Mike, Mark, or Mary 

Food for People: Sort Holiday Food Donations WHAT: Groups of volunteers and individuals are needed to help with food barrels, sort incoming holiday food donations, and with helping to write “Thank You” letters. WHEN: Call for more information. WHERE: Food Bank, 307 W 14th St., Eureka WHO: Call Laura Hughes at 445-3166 x 310 for specific details, times and directions. 

Manila Community Center Holiday Events WHAT: Volunteers needed for annual community holiday parties. WHEN: Call for more information. WHERE: Manila Community 30th Annual Elders Dinner and Inter-Tribal Gathering: Event Help Needed Center, 1611 Peninsula Dr., In keeping with the spirit of Thanksgiving and National American Indian Heritage Month, the Manila public is cordially invited to attend the 30th Annual Northwest Intertribal Gathering & Elders Din- WHO: contact Salena Kahle at ner on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2011 at Redwood Acres Fairgrounds, 3750 Harris Street in Eureka. 444-9771 or email her at Salena@ The Gathering is a community event that honors all elders and veterans. Elders are served a free for more details. traditional dinner beginning at 12 noon. The Elders’ Gifting Ceremony follows at 3 p.m.  McKinleyville Community The dinner, which includes roast turkey and open-pit baked salmon, is provided at no cost to all Collaborative & Family Reelders over age 55, regardless of ethnicity. The dinner is offered with a nominal charge to other age source Center: Needs Holiday groups. Volunteers Throughout the day there will be American Indian arts and crafts available for sale. Also present will be native singers, a drum group and dance demonstrations, which include: Brush, Tolowa HonWHAT: Help organize donations oring, Aztec, Shake Head, and Hoop dancers. for our local families. People Last year more than 4,500 people attended the Gathering and more than 2,000 dinners were needed with vehicles that can served. pick up and deliver donations. The gates open at 10:00 a.m. Admission to the grounds is free. WHEN: Call for more information. WHERE: 1450 Hiller Road, WHAT: Help with food preparation and set-up the day before and clean up the day after the event. Building 8, McKinleyville. WHEN: Visit website for more information WHERE: Redwood Acres Fairgrounds, Eureka CA WHO: Mary Wade at 840-0905 WHO: Lou Moerner at with the Northern California Indian Development Council WEBSITE: 



Free Senior Information Directory to be Available Soon


hirty-two area businesses have jumped on board to underwrite the 2012-13 Senior Information Directory published every two years by Area I Agency on Aging. Senior Information Directory 2012-13 (a working title for now) directs people age 60 and older, the disabled and their families to an array of services that support an active, independent and healthy lifestyle

for residents of Humboldt and Del Norte counties. It will be available by the New Year. “It’s the go-to guide that refers seniors and the disabled to low- or no-cost services provided by nonprofit or public service groups,” said AIAA Director of Programs Todd Metcalf. Color-coded and organized by topic, the guide is available for free thanks to the many advertisers who view it as the phone


book that matters for the one in five local residents who are age 60 or older. Transportation, finance, food and nutrition, caregiving, housing, health and wellness, and legal matters are a sampling of what’s covered. AIAA’s Information & Assistance staff is updating the listings. Two-thirds of the ad space has already been sold. For advertising or listings, call AIAA at 707-442-3763. A print run of 15,000 – a 25 percent increase from the last edition – is planned. The directory goes to press in November with the help of the North Coast Journal. 

Gray Matters is a quarterly publication of the Area I Agency on Aging. Cindy Denbo Executive Director and Publisher Carol Harrison Editor AIAA is located at 434 Seventh Street in Eureka, 95501. Phone: 707-442-3763. Gray Matters is designed by graphic artist Siobhan Calderwood of the NCJ and is posted on the NCJ website at The next edition of Gray Matters is January 5, 2012

Gray Matters Fall 2011  

A quarterly publication of Area 1 Agency on Aging Fall 2011

Gray Matters Fall 2011  

A quarterly publication of Area 1 Agency on Aging Fall 2011