March Is National Nutrition Month – Eat Healthy All Month Long


Tuesday, March 3rd, 2020

March is National Nutrition Month, and to put a sharper focus on healthy eating, nutrition and excercise, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has put together a toolkit to help seniors – or people of any age – make the most of what they eat.

Some quick tips to consider are:
Including healthy foods from all food groups in daily meals
Make sure to hydrate in a healthy manner
Learn how to read the Nutrition Fact Panels on the sides of packaged food
Practice good portion control – eat enough, but not too much

The Academy has put together a handy tool kit complete with activities, posters and literature that can help you educate and remind your friends about the importance of good nutrition every day. Just click on the following link to access the full array of materials, available at no cost.

NUTRITION MONTH TOOL KIT

MA4 Legislative Priorities Help Seniors Focus On Key Issues


Monday, February 24th, 2020

Each year, the Missouri Association of Area Agencies identifies key legislative priorities for the year. The range in topic from tax credits and funding for meals programs to elder abuse laws and nursing home security. The one thing they all have, however, is that each priority is focused on the well-being of Missouri seniors. This year, MA4 will be advocating for positive outcomes in the following six categories:

  • Cameras in Skilled Care Facilities
  • Circuit Breaker
  • Elder Abuse/Nursing Home Abuse
  • Funding for MORx
  • Intranet Sales Tax
  • Maintain/Increase AAA appropriations

Here’s a quick recap of each issue including some of the proposals currently being considered by the Missouri Legislature.

Cameras In Skilled Care Facilities
(Information pending)

Circuit Breaker Renter Income Program – MA4 Supports
HB 2452 Modifies provisions relating to “circuit breaker” tax credits. Currently, certain senior citizens and disabled individuals are eligible to apply for a tax credit on real estate taxes or rent they have paid. Renters may claim a credit of up to $750 provided their income is equal to or less than $27,500. Homeowners may claim a credit of up to $1,100 provided their income is equal to or less than $30,000. This bill changes the amount of the credit for renters from $750 to $1,000 and the income threshold from up to $27,500 to $34,500. Additionally, this bill changes the amount of the credit for homeowners from $1,100 to $1,500 and the income threshold from $30,000 to $40,000.

Elder Abuse/Nursing Home Abuse
(Information pending)

Funding for MORx – MA4 Supports
MA4 supports continuation of the MORx prescription drug program for low income Missouri seniors.

Internet Sales Tax
HB 1967 is known as the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement. Basically, it creates the ability for the state to collect sales tax revenues from online Internet sellers.

Appropriations for Area Agency on Aging ProgramsMA4 Supports Increases
HB 10 is the General Appropriations bill that deals with funds to be expended by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. MA4 supports increasing support for senior programs to levels which match or exceed those previously granted by the Missouri Legislature in terms of meal program funding and other AAA programs. MA4 also supports full funding for the Senior Services Growth Fund which was created by the Legislature last year.

After Iowa – Missouri Will Hold Presidential Primary March 10


Saturday, February 8th, 2020

Recent news reports have highlighted the problems encountered as Iowa kicked off the national process of selecting presidential candidates in 2020. Missouri will hold a Presidential Primary of its own on March 10, 2020, but the rules and procedures for this election are significantly different, and in many ways easier, than those in Iowa.

Missouri has a regular primary on March 10, then choose individual people to serve as delegates to the national political conventions later in the year through a caucus or local meeting process. If you are a registered Missouri voter, you are entitled to participate, and you may have more choices than you think.

In Missouri, voters are not registered to vote by party, but will be required to select the ballot of one party when they cast their presidential preference votes. Voters may choose a ballot from any one of the following political parties: Democratic, Republican, Libertarian, Green and Constitution.

Although it is surprising to many people, a total of 33 people have filed to appear on the Presidential Primary ballot in Missouri. Any candidate who wanted to appear on the Missouri Presidential ballot was required to pay a $1,000 filing fee in advance – or submit a petition containing 5,000 qualified Missouri voter signatures along with a statement indicating that they couldn’t afford the $1,000 filing fee. There will be 5 Republicans; 22 Democrats; 1 Libertarian; 3 Green; and 2 Constitution Party candidates on this year’s ballot (Including the names of some people who have officially suspended their campaigns, but didn’t have time to pull their names from the official ballot.

If you have questions about your eligibility to vote; rules regarding absentee or accessible voting; or to see a complete list of candidates who will appear on the March 10 ballot, click on the following link. And remember, your vote is your voice.

TO READ A MORE COMPREHENSIVE REPORT ON THE MISSOURI PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARY, FOLLOW THIS LINK

February Is American Heart Month


Wednesday, January 22nd, 2020

Traditionally the month for lovers and all things heart related, February also reminds us to take care of our heart. It is American Heart Month.

The annual celebration began in 1963 to encourage Americans to join the battle against heart disease. A presidential proclamation pays tribute each year to researchers, physicians, public health professionals and volunteers for their tireless efforts in preventing, treating and researching heart disease, which is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the U.S.

If you would like to promote American Heart Month, we have assembled a few informative graphics that you can use in your social media posts. Just click on each PICTURE and select Save Image.

Governor Proposes New State Budget


Wednesday, January 22nd, 2020

Governor Parson unveiled his Executive Budget and delivered his State of the State address last week, and several hearings on Medicaid, the State Budget and Tax Issues were held last week and/or are scheduled for this week. Here are a few items of interest:

Medicaid Expansion – In his State of the State address, the Governor claimed that Medicaid expansion would cost Missouri taxpayers.

However, numerous studies have shown that expansion can actually result in savings to state general revenue funds. For example, a recent examination of the actual state budget impacts in five states that expanded Medicaid showed that “expanding Medicaid has either been a positive for the state’s general fund revenues or has not resulted in any additional cost to the state.”

Calls to expand Medicaid have increased this year due to the fact that since January 2018, 125,000 children and parents have lost Medicaid coverage in Missouri.

Budget EstimateGovernor Parson released his Executive Budget earlier this week, following the State of the State address. While the Executive Budget assumes 1.9% growth in FY2021, the House Budget Committee reportedly plans to develop its budget using a substantially lower estimate of state revenue growth.

In either case, the development of next year’s budget comes at a time of continued uncertainty and instability for Missouri. The growth shown in recent revenue collections may be misleading because they’re relative to a time of very weak collections.

In fact, when reviewed over just two years, MO collections didn’t even keep pace with inflation. That is, our state didn’t collect enough to pay for services at the same level they were two years ago, not accounting for an aging population that may need additional health, nutrition or caregiver services, or a larger number of kids in school.

The comparison to other states is even more glaring. Average revenue growth across the country was much higher than in Missouri, so those states were able to increase teacher pay, invest in workforce development, and save for a rainy day.

Legislators Begin Pre-Filing Bills For 2020 Session


Wednesday, December 4th, 2019

Missouri legislators have begun pre-filing bills that will be considered during the upcoming session of the Missouri Legislature. The first day for filing such legislation was December 1, and more than 250 bills have already been submitted for consideration.

Some bills of interest to Missouri seniors include: HB1560 that provides that the City of St. Louis senior citizens’ services fund budget does not need to be approved by the city government; HB 1580 that requires the Department of Health and Senior Services to promulgate regulations consistent with CDC guidelines for prescribing opioids for chronic pain; HB1388 which modifies provisions relating to long-term care facilities; HB1451 that modifies the offense of abuse of an elderly person, a person with disability, or a vulnerable person and the offense of financial exploitation of an elderly person or person with a disability; HJR61 that introduces constitutional provisions relating to a tax exemption for certain senior citizen property owners; and SB580 relating to long-term care savings accounts.

More legislation is expected to be pre-filed before the General Assembly convenes in January.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW OF LIST OF NEWLY FILED LEGISLATION

Medicare Open Enrollment Period Ends December 7


Friday, November 22nd, 2019

This is the time of year when people enrolled in the Medicare program have the option to change or modify existing plan coverage. It is known as the Open Enrollment period and runs from October 15 until December 7, 2019.

If you are satisfied with your existing plan, and that plan is still offered, you are not required to make any changes to your existing plan. However, if changes in your circumstances have occurred, you may want to change your basic Medicare coverage plan or your Medicare Part D plan which covers your prescription drugs.

If your current plan has been discontinued or changed, you will have received a notice advising you of that fact. If you are not sure about your status, you may want to visit the Medicare.gov website to compare the various plans currently available to you. Each plan has its own set of coverages and premiums.

If you do nothing, your current plan will automatically be renewed as long as that plan is still offered. If you want to make ANY changes, you must do so before the December 7, 2019 deadline.

Don’t delay. The deadline is just around the corner.

VISIT THE MEDICARE.GOV WEBSITE BY CLICKING ON THIS LINK

The ACA Navigator Map Is Back


Thursday, October 31st, 2019

The Open Enrollment Period for people who want to enroll or change their health insurance plans through the Health Insurance Marketplace begins on November 1, 2019 and runs through December 15.

For many people, particularly those who have already established an account, one easy way to enroll or update plans is online at HealthCare.gov. However, some people need a little more help, particularly if they are new to the process.

Our team of Navigators is prepared to help you find a plan that fits your needs, and we have people throughout the state who are prepared to assist you and answer questions. Simply visit the following link and you can find a listing by county of our help centers. The map and list can be downloaded for offline use, or simply scroll through the listing to find your nearest Navigator.

Remember, Open Enrollment is here. Don’t miss your chance to enroll in an affordable health insurance plan for you and your family.

LINK TO NAVIGATOR MAP AND LIST

Fraud Alert: Medicare Enrollment


Saturday, October 5th, 2019

Medicare Open Enrollment has closed for 2020 plans, but the Missouri Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) wants to remind you to protect yourself from healthcare fraud during this time when marketers will try to get your attention.

Even though your Medicare card no longer contains your Social Security number, it’s still valuable information for unscrupulous people who would use it fraudulently. Scammers are after medical insurance and financial account information and passwords for their monetary gain. That’s why you should still guard your Medicare card. Treat it like a credit card. Check Medicare claims summary forms for errors. Be wary of requests for your Medicare number.

Medicare will never call you to ask for your Medicare number. If someone calls you claiming to be Medicare and asking for your number, hang up the phone. Also, if someone wants to use your Medicare number to see whether you might be a good fit for a particular Part D or Medicare advantage plan, be wary of giving out the Medicare information. Make sure you trust the person who is asking for it.

The Missouri SMP works closely with CLAIM, the Missouri State Health Insurance Assistance Program. If you want to get free, unbiased information about Medicare, you can call CLAIM at 1-800-390-3330. CLAIM will connect you to the nearest local CLAIM Medicare counselor.

Here are some more tips:

•Never accept medical supplies from a door-to-door salesman. Medicare and Medicaid do not send representatives to your home.

•Never give your Medicare card, Medicare number, Social Security card, or Social Security number to anyone except your doctor or people you know should have it.

•Remember, nothing is ever “free.” Never accept offers of money or gifts for free medical care.

•Be wary of providers who tell you that the item or service isn’t usually covered, but they “know how to bill Medicare” so Medicare will pay.

•Always check your medications before leaving the pharmacy to be sure you received the correct medication prescribed.

•Never submit to cheek swabs from providers you do not know. DNA fraud is on the rise. If you want a DNA/genetic/cancer screening, you should talk to your primary care doctor.

As always, report suspected Medicare fraud to the Missouri SMP at 1-888-515-6565.

Highlights from Summit on Aging & Health – Days 2 & 3


Tuesday, September 10th, 2019

On Tuesday, the day started early and attendees were not disappointed. During the morning Pleanary session, n4a’s Autumn Campbell delivered an in-depth report on federal policy affecting seniors entitled “Live From DC: Federal Policy Update”.You can download a copy of her presentation at the following link: “Live From DC Policy Update”

After morning breakout sessions were complete, participants gathered for lunch to hear from Missouri’s Secretary of State, Jay Ashcroft.

Sessions during the day included presentations dealing with the federal census, suicide prevention techniques, the challenges of dementia, the impact of federal and state tax changes and scams that affect the elderly population.

The evening was “on your own” with an opportunity to explore The Landing in Branson; find a great new restaurant; or maybe just catch up on your email and phone calls from earlier in the day. Day 3 activities start with breakfast at 7:30.

Day 3 – 2019 Summit on Aging & Health

It always seems like the shortest day of the Summit, but it was packed with great information. Paul Greenwood, a former prosecutor with the San Diego Office the District Attorney, opened the day discussing strategies to protect against elder abuse and economic security. Breakout sessions on Innovation, Leadership and Advocacy featured presentations from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services; the award-winning SeniorAge Area Agency on Aging; and a compelling presentation from Tommy Goode of the Moral Injury Institute.

Paul Greenwood addresses the assembled group on Day 3.

The final day wrapped up with an update on MA4 initiatives and future plans and a fan-favorite drawing for door prizes for participants who were able to stay until the very end.

Lisa Knoll sends participants home with a few special gifts.

Thank you to all of our great sponsors and speakers who offered their time, expertise and funding to make us all just a little bit smarter about the work we do everyday. See you in 2020 at the 17th Annual Summit. Details coming in February.