Medicare’s annual open enrollment period has begun and will run through Dec. 7, 2013. According to a press release from David Sayen, Medicare Regional Administrator, if you want to change your Medicare Advantage or Medicare Part D (prescription drug) plan, now is the time to do it. Any changes in coverage will then begin as of Jan. 1, 2014.
Click here for more information and comparisons of benefits. Call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) for around-the-clock assistance to find out more about your coverage options. For more information see the complete press release below.
Medicare Press release:
Medicare’s annual open enrollment period has begun, and I want to encourage everyone with Medicare to review their current health and prescription drug coverage. Open enrollment runs through Dec. 7, 2013. If you want to change your Medicare Advantage or Medicare Part D (prescription drug) plan, this is the time of year to do it. Any new coverage you select will kick in on Jan. 1, 2014.
If you have Original Medicare and you’re satisfied with it, you don’t need to do anything during open enrollment. Also, Medicare’s open enrollment has nothing to do with the Affordable Care Act’s new Health Insurance Marketplace. If you have Medicare, you don’t need to worry about Marketplace plans.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, or CMS, announced recently that the average Medicare Advantage premium for 2014 is projected to be $32.60. CMS estimated that the average basic Part D drug premium in 2014 would be $31 per month, holding steady for four years in a row.
Since the Affordable Care Act was passed, average Medicare Advantage premiums are down by 9.8 percent. The deductible for standard Part D drug plans in 2014 will be $310, a $15 decline. Meanwhile, the quality of Medicare Advantage and Part D drug plans continues to improve, with more than one-third of Medicare Advantage plans receiving four or more stars (out of a possible five stars) in 2014 -- a 28 percent increase over last year. Medicare Advantage and Part D drug plans with five stars are allowed to enroll beneficiaries at any time during the year.
Medicare plans’ coverage options and costs can change each year, and Medicare beneficiaries should evaluate their current coverage and choices and select the plan that best meets their needs. If you think your current coverage will meet your needs for 2014, you don’t need to change anything.
For more information on Medicare open enrollment and to compare benefits and prices of 2014 Medicare Advantage and Part D drug plans, please visit: www.cms.gov/Center/Special-Topic/Open-Enrollment-Center.html.
A variety of resources are available to help people with Medicare, their families, and caregivers compare current coverage with new plan offerings for 2014. You can:
- Visit www.medicare.gov to see plan coverage and costs available in your area, and enroll in a new plan if you decide to make a change. Open enrollment information is available in Spanish.
- Call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) for around-the-clock assistance to find out more about your coverage options. TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048. Counseling is available in a wide variety of languages.
- Review the 2014 Medicare & You handbook. This handbook has been mailed to the homes of people with Medicare and it’s also online at: www.medicare.gov/pubs/pdf/10050.pdf.
- Get one-on-one counseling assistance from your local State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP). Local SHIP contact information can be found:
- At www.medicare.gov/contacts/organization-search-criteria.aspx or;
- On the back of the 2014 Medicare & You handbook or;
- By calling Medicare (contact information above).
People with Medicare who have limited income and resources may qualify for Extra Help paying for their Part D drug plans. There’s no cost or obligation to apply for Extra Help, also called the low-income subsidy. Medicare beneficiaries, family members, or caregivers can apply online at www.socialsecurity.gov/prescriptionhelp or call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY users should call 1-800-325-0778) to find out more.
Please watch out for scammers during Medicare open enrollment season. Don’t give personal information to anyone who shows up at your home uninvited or makes an unsolicited phone call to sell you Medicare-related products or services. If you believe you’re a victim of fraud or identity theft, please contact 1-800-MEDICARE. More information is available at www.stopmedicarefraud.gov.
The State Water Resources Control Board's Division of Water Rights today (Nov. 26, 2013) issued a Cease and Desist Order to the Benbow Water Company, in Benbow Calif., requiring the company to stop water sales outside the district's area of service, according to a press release from the State Water Board. The release cited possible negative impacts on fish and wildlife as a rationale for the order which was reportedly triggered by a public complaint.
The Cease and Desist Order, requires the Benbow Water Co. to immediately stop the bulk sale and delivery of water outside the authorized place of use, including some local community-sponsored events. However, the order allows the water company to choose to continue to provide bulk water sales outside its authorized place of use, when the water is needed for emergency domestic water supply. More details appear in the press release below.
Hear more on this story in a news piece aired on the KMUD Local News on Wed. Nov. 27, 2013 by News Director Terri Klemetson.
Press Release from PIO Office, State Water Resources Control Board:
To prevent possible negative impacts to fish and wildlife, the State Water Resources Control Board's Division of Water Rights today issued a Cease and Desist Order to the Benbow Water Co. in Humboldt County to halt water sales outside the district's area of service. Under the order, the Benbow Water Co. must stop selling bulk water for use outside the area of service defined in the water district's permit, and take actions to correct permit violations involving service to 20 homes outside of the service area. Violations were discovered as a result of a public complaint.
The water district has a State Water Board permit to draw water from the East Branch of the South Fork of the Eel River, and it also claims a riparian right to water from the river. The water right permit defines the uses for the water, the amount that may be diverted and the area in which the water may be used. Water diversions under riparian rights do not need a permit, but the water must be used on land contiguous to the water body. The continued sale of bulk water outside the area of service of the Benbow Water Co. poses a threat to public trust resources and fisheries, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. The South Fork of the Eel River is a designated Wild and Scenic River, and supports Coho Salmon, Chinook Salmon and Steelhead Trout, all listed as threatened species. The unauthorized diversion of water reduces the amount of water available for fisheries and other riparian habitat.
Under the Cease and Desist Order, Benbow Water Co. must immediately stop the bulk sale and delivery of water outside the authorized place of use, including some local community-sponsored events, until the State Water Board considers a petition for change in the water right permit; and stop all other sale of bulk water outside the place or season of use within 30 days. The Order allows Benbow Water Co. to choose to continue to provide bulk water sales outside its authorized place of use, however, when the water is needed for emergency domestic water supply.
The water company is ordered to keep accurate records of bulk water sales within the area of service, detailing the name of the water hauler, the volume of water sold, the date, purchaser, purpose and place of use. Separate records of bulk water sales for emergency domestic water use must be kept. Within 60 days, Benbow Water Co. must file a petition for change in place of use to include areas now receiving water diverted under the Benbow permit, and keep monthly records of the water served to areas outside the authorized places of use.
Benbow Water Co. must demonstrate a valid basis of right to deliver water to the 20 homes outside the authorized service area or file an appropriative water right to cover the diversion and use of water; and immediately discontinue adding new residential or commercial water service connections to parcels outside of the authorized place of use or without a riparian claim of right. If Benbow Water Co. fails to comply with the order, it could be subject to civil liability fees of up to $1,000 for each day of violation, or referral to the Attorney General for further enforcement action.
To learn more about the State Water Board's protection of public trust resources,visit: http://www.swrcb.ca.gov/waterrights/water_issues/programs/public_trust_resources/
The Community Journalism Project (CJP) took shape in 2009 under the direction of Terri Klemetson who is now News Director at KMUD. Initial goals of the CJP included getting more voices on the Local News, and more multi-media collaboration within the KMUD listening community. Participation in the program does not require prior knowledge of journalism or radio broadcasting. The CJP training component covers the basics of broadcast journalism, including: ethics, interviewing techniques, recording equipment basics, writing for radio, story composition and editing.
Terrri Klemetson describes her vision in this way, "I wanted listeners to understand journalism ethics, and I wanted to create a space for open dialogue about why and how the KMUD Newsroom picked stories to air. It was a great forum for open discussion, critique and skill sharing. I also firmly believe that KMUD is more than a radio station - our newsroom needs to adapt to the changing media world and the expansion of social media as a news source and communication tool."
A spin-off from the CJP was the Emergency Response Team (ERT), which evolved in 2010 to enhance the coverage of emergency events such as earthquakes, major slides, fires, and floods. ERT members come from those who have already gone through the Community Journalist training and then receive additional emergency preparedness training and participate in practice sessions.
Another round of Community Journalist training classes has been scheduled between now and the end of the year. All classes are free (donations welcome) and are held at the KMUD studios at: 1144 Redway Dr, Redway, Calif. For more information call the KMUD Office at (707) 923-2513 or the KMUD News Room (707) 923-2605.
The current 2013 class schedule appears below:
- Nov. 24 – (Everyone invited!) - 1:00-3:00. This class will teach audio editing, using both Audacity and Sound Studio. Both Monique Rowan and Terri Klemetson will be teaching. Newsroom reporters, producers, and anchors will be attending to share audio editing tips.
- Dec. 1 – (Everyone invited!) - 1:00-3:00. This class will include information about investigative reporting, Public Records Act (PRA) , and Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
- Dec. 15 – (Everyone invited!) - 1:00-3:00. Emergency Response Team class will cover winter disaster preparedness.
- Jan. 5 – (Everyone invited!) - 1:00-3:00. This class will focus on audio editing.
- Jan. 19 – (Everyone invited!) - 1:00-3:00. This class will present information on investigative reporting.
According to a press release from the Calif. Attorney General Kamala D. Harris, ten non-approved private health insurance websites have been shut down. Harris stated, “These websites fraudulently imitated 'Covered California' (the state’s official insurance marketplace for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) in order to lure consumers away from plans that provide the benefits of the Affordable Care Act.” Harris added, “My office will continue to investigate and shut down these kinds of sites. I urge Californians to avoid healthcare scams by visiting coveredca.com.”
The complete press release appears below including a list of the deactivated sites and tips on how not to get caught up in health coverage scams.
SAN FRANCISCO -- Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today announced the removal of ten private health insurance websites that misled Californians by imitating Covered California, the state’s official insurance marketplace for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). Attorney General Harris also released tips to help consumers avoid insurance scams.
“These websites fraudulently imitated Covered California in order to lure consumers away from plans that provide the benefits of the Affordable Care Act,” Attorney General Harris said. “My office will continue to investigate and shut down these kinds of sites. I urge Californians to avoid healthcare scams by visiting coveredca.com.”
In September, the California Attorney General’s office began an investigation into websites that imitate the state’s Covered California website (www.coveredca.com). Multiple website operators were sent cease and desist letters informing them that their websites were in violation of state law and demanding the immediate removal of the website or transfer of the domain name to the state’s official exchange.
These websites were operated by private health insurance brokers or companies that were not affiliated with Covered California. The websites have domain names similar to the state’s official healthcare exchange and contain unauthorized references to the official exchange’s trademarked logo and name. In several cases, websites used the phrases “Get Covered,” “Covered California” and “California Health Benefit Advisers.”
The California Affordable Care Act forbids individuals or entities from claiming to provide services on behalf of Covered California without securing a valid agreement with the State Exchange. (Gov. Code, § 100510.) State law also prohibits solicitations that falsely imply a governmental connection (Bus. & Prof. Code, § 17533.6), the use of a domain name that is confusingly similar to another entity (Bus. & Prof. Code, § 17525), making or disseminating untrue or misleading representations with the intent of selling goods or services (Bus. & Prof. Code, § 17500) and unfair competition through untrue or misleading advertising (Bus. & Prof. Code, § 17200).
To date, all website operators who have been contacted by the Attorney General’s office have complied, and the following websites have been either deactivated or redirected to the official exchange website:
The California Health Benefit Exchange is charged with implementing the ACA and is the operator of California’s online health insurance marketplace known as Covered California. California consumers who purchase health insurance policies through this marketplace receive protections guaranteed by the ACA that may not exist in policies outside of the exchange.
Health insurance plans sold outside the official exchange on the individual market before January 1, 2014 do not qualify for federal subsidies and do not have the guarantees provided by the ACA’s consumer protection provisions. Major consumer protections include: no denials based on preexisting conditions; no rating differences based on factors other than age, geography, and family size; issuers may not impose any annual dollar limits for covered services; and all qualified plans must cover essential health benefits identified under the ACA.
The California Attorney General’s Health, Education and Welfare Section, in conjunction with Covered California and the California Department of Insurance, will continue to monitor these and other potentially fraudulent sites.
To avoid scams related to California’s health insurance marketplace, Attorney General Harris has released the following tips for consumers:
- California’s only official health insurance marketplace is www.coveredca.com, which is where individuals, families and small businesses can get information, compare plans and enroll.
- Be wary if you receive a call from a representative claiming to be a government official asking for your personal information like Social Security number or Medicare card number. You should not provide personal or financial information over the phone and should instead contact Covered California directly.
- If you are approached by someone offering assistance from Covered California, verify that they are a Certified Enrollment Counselor by asking to see their required ID badge or by contacting Covered California directly.
- Never pay someone for assistance with healthcare enrollment. Free enrollment assistance is available by contacting Covered California directly.
- If you believe that you have been the victim of a scam, please report it by contacting Covered California directly or by filing a consumer complaint with the California Attorney General’s office at: http://oag.ca.gov/contact/consumer-complaint-against-business-or-company
Assistance by phone is also available in the following languages:
Update March 4, 2014 - Elan Firpo launched her election campaign for Humboldt County District Attorney last Thurs., Feb. 27, 2014 in Eureka. Firpo's platform includes strengthening the management of prosecutors, in the D.A.'s Office, and focusing on serious crimes in collaboration with law enforcement.
Hear more on Firpo's campaign launch in the report below submitted by Daniel Mintz and aired by Kerry Reynolds on the KMUD Local News Mon., March 3, 2014.
Update: Feb. 17, 2014 - So far four candidates, Allan Dollison, Elan Firpo, Maggie Fleming and Arnie Klein, have entered the 2014 race for Humboldt County District Attorney after last November's announcement, by sitting D.A., Paul Gallegos, indicating that he wouldn't run for another term. Gallegos was first elected to the office in 2002. During the last election cycle, he faced three challengers: Allison Jackson, Paul Hagen and Kathleen Bryson.
KMUD News Correspondent, Daniel Mintz, aired reports on the campaigns as they kicked off, and those audios, candidates photos and website links appear below, as does the original post made after Arnie Klein, the first candidate to enter the race, made his announcement.
The submission below, from Daniel Mintz covering the Dollison campaign, aired on the KMUD Local News Jan. 21, 2014.
The news piece below was submitted by Daniel Mintz and aired on KMUD Local News Jan. 29, 2014
See the original post below on the D.A race, including KMUD News audio on Arnie Klein candidacy
The 2014 race for Humboldt County District Attorney received some added interest last Wed, Nov 13 when Arnie Klein came out of retirement to announce his challenge to incumbent D.A. Paul Gallegos. Klein served as Humboldt County Deputy District Attorney from 2006 until he retired from that position in 2012. According to his election web page Klein, "...has served as deputy district attorney in four California counties and has built a legacy of championing social justice, whether for the indigent or the high profile. His convictions have gone beyond the confines of the courtroom and into the community where he has created educational programs that changed the way sexual assault victims are treated throughout the country."
Klein's experience, before joining the Humboldt County D.A.'s Office, ranges from working as a Deputy District Attorney in Los Angeles, as well as in Tulare County, to serving as senior trial lawyer in the Monterey County District Attorney’s office.
Daniel Mintz attended Klein's candidacy announcement event and submitted the news piece below, which aired on the KMUD Local News Wed., Nov. 13, 2013.
- Arnie Klein's facebook Page
- Times Standard Article on Klein's retirement
- Recent North Coast Journal article on Klein
The photo below was taken by Daniel Mintz at Klein's annoucment event
Update: Nov. 18,2013 - Sixteen-year-old Katie Helberg, previously reported to the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office as a runaway juvenile at risk due to medical concerns, was found yesterday (Sun., Nov. 17) in good health, according to a press release from HCSO.
The original post on this story appears below.
According to a press release from the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office, Katie Helberg (shown in the photo), a 16 year old white female, was reported missing from her home in Eureka on the morning of Sat., Nov.9. Her family reported that she has health issues and requires medication.
Katie is further described as: approximately 5’4” tall, 130 pounds, with blue eyes and long blond straight hair. She wears braces on her teeth that have purple and green rubber bands on them. She was last seen wearing blue jeans, a black t-shirt with an “Alaska” logo on the front, and was wearing tennis shoes. Anyone with information about this missing person is asked to call: the Sheriff’s Office at 707-445-7251 or Detective Greg Musson at 707-268-3643. The complete press release can be viewed below.
HCSO press release, dated Nov. 14, 2013::
On 11-10-2013, at approximately 8:45 p.m. the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office received a report of a missing 16 year old female, Katie Helberg. Katie’s mother reported she last saw Katie at home in Eureka during the morning of 11-9-2013. Katie has health issues and needs medication. The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office would appreciate the public’s help in locating her.
Katie Helberg is further described as follows: 16 years old, white female, approximately 5’4” tall, approximately 130 pounds, she has blue eyes and long blond straight hair. She wears braces on her teeth. The braces have purple and green rubber bands on them. She was last seen wearing blue jeans, a black t- shirt with “Alaska” logo on the front, and tennis shoes.
Anyone with information for the Sheriff’s Office regarding this case or related criminal activity is encouraged to call the Sheriff’s Office at 707-445-7251 or Detective Greg Musson at 707-268-3643.
Update - Fri., Nov. 15, 2013: According to a press release from the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office, at around 1:00 p.m. today Michael Gabriel’s mother notified Hoopa Tribal Police that Michael had returned home. A Hoopa Tribal Police Officer met with Michael and his parents and found that Michael was in good health and had left his residence voluntarily.
The original post on this story appears below.
Thirteen year old Michael James Gabriel (shown in this photo provided by his parents) has been missing since Fri., November 8, 2013 and might be staying in the McKinleyville area, according to a press release from the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office. Michael was last seen leaving his home in Hoopa.
Michael is described as follows: Native American, 13 years old, 5’ 3” tall, approximately 115 pounds, brown hair and brown eyes. If you have any information about this missing boy, please call: the Sheriff’s Office at 707-445-7251 or the Sheriff’s Office Crime Tip line at 707-268-2539. The press release appears below.
HCSO press release, dated Nov. 14, 2013:
On 11-13-2013, at approximately 10:40 a.m. the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office received a report of a missing 13 year old male. Family and school officials reported Michael James Gabriel 13 years old has been missing since November 8, 2013 and was last seen leaving home in Hoopa. He is possibly staying in the McKinleyville area. Due to his age he is considered a high risk missing juvenile. The Sheriff’s Office would appreciate the public’s help in locating Michael.
Michael James Gabriel is described as follows: Native American, 13 years old, 5’ 3” tall, approximately 115 pounds, brown hair and brown eyes
Anyone with information for the Sheriff’s Office regarding this case or related criminal activity is encouraged to call the Sheriff’s Office at 707-445-7251 or the Sheriff’s Office Crime Tip line at 707-268-2539.
As many water districts struggle with increasing costs of loans and infrastructure improvements, customers are faced with increased rates. Crescent City Water District is now facing this issue and will discuss their plans to raise water rates at a special 6 pm meeting Tues., Nov.12 at the Flynn Center in Crescent City. The proposed increase will be 60% the first year with smaller percentages each successive year for five years.
Use the player below to hear more on this this story in a news piece submitted by Sharon Wolff from the Rio Dell Times.com. This piece aired on KMUD Local News Mon., Nov. 11, 2013.
Terry Houser, 28 from Eureka (shown in photo), reportedly stole a radio-controlled helicopter from RC Hobby Tech in Eureka and then fled, on foot, running across 5th street where he was struck by a pickup truck. Houser was taken to Saint Joseph Hospital by ambulance where he was reported to be in stable condition with multiple abrasions, broken teeth, and a broken right femur. Houser, who is currently on probation for grand theft and vandalism, will be charged with theft. The complete press release appears below.
Eureka Police Department Press Release, dated Nov. 8, 2013:
On 11/7/13 at approximately 4:46 p.m. Eureka Police Officers were dispatched to 5th Street and E Street to the report of an injury traffic collision between a truck and a pedestrian.
Upon arrival officers found a white 2006 Ford F350 that was blocking the far right lane of 5th Street. Officers located a pedestrian lying in the far right lane of 5th Street in front of the Ford. The driver of the Ford was identified as forty-one year old Bryan Sanderson of McKinleyville. The pedestrian was identified as twenty-eight year old Terry Houser of Eureka.
Based on the driver’s and witnesses’ statements, Houser fled on foot southbound onto 5th Street, outside the crosswalk, in front of eastbound vehicle traffic, after stealing a radio controlled helicopter from RC Hobby Tech, located at 411 5th Street. Sanderson drove the Ford eastbound in the far right lane of 5th Street through the intersection of E Street on a green traffic control signal, when Houser ran in a southwest direction into the far right lane of 5th Street in front of the Ford. Sanderson was unable to stop the Ford before striking Houser.
Houser was transported to Saint Joseph Hospital by ambulance where he was determined to be in stable condition with multiple abrasions, broken teeth, and a broken right femur. Houser is on felony probation for grand theft and vandalism. Houser was recently released from the Humboldt County Correctional Facility after a felony theft related conviction. A warrant declaration will be submitted to the Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office due to Houser committing a theft from RC Hobby Tech.
Alcohol or drugs did not appear to be a factor in the collision. The investigation into this collision is still ongoing.
Atmospheric Rivers (AR) are long corridors of concentrated moisture in the atmosphere. They usually appear at altitudes of about one mile above the earth's surface, flowing for thousands of miles, and on average are 400-600 km wide. ARs can create extreme rainfall and floods, disrupt travel, trigger mud slides, and cause catastrophic loss of life and property.
According to a Jan. 2013 Scientific American article, this atmospheric phenomenon was discovered about 15 years ago and given the name "atmospheric river" by researchers Yong Zhu and Reginald Newell who, "...noticed an odd feature in simulations of global wind and water vapor patterns that had been made by the European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts."
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOOA) website, "Most flooding events that occur along the west coast of North America in winter are associated with the landfall of AR conditions." Although ARs can be detected by satellite instruments, a specialized atmospheric river observatory, or ARO, (see photo above/credit NOOA) has been developed which includes instrumentation uniquely adapted for capturing AR data. The Eureka Office of the National Weather Service, on Woodley Island, is slated to receive an ARO this coming January.
Just before Halloween KMUD News traveled to Woodley Island to learn more about Atmospheric Rivers and AR observatories.
Use the player below to hear this story, submitted by KMUD Community Journalist Bob Froehlich. This piece aired on KMUD Local News on Tues., Nov. 5, 2013 and includes interviews with National Weather Service Meterologist in Charge, Nancy Dean, and Mel Nordquist, Science and Operations Officer.
The entire 25 minute extended interview can be heard below.
Mobile AR Observatory. Credit: NOAA
- Scientific American article-"The Coming Megafloods"- Jan. 2013
- NOOA Atmospheric River Page
- Atmospheric River Smashes Records in Pacific Northwest-Climate Central.org
- Mysterious Atmospheric River Soaks California, Where Megaflood May Be Overdue-Scientific American Blogs
- ARkStorm: California’s other "Big One"
Photos/top to bottom: entrance to the NWS Woodley Island Facility, view of the facility's "Command Center", and meterologists Mel Nordquist and Nancy Dean.