22December2014

Safety and Public Awareness

Safety and Public Awareness

News reporting arrests, weather warnings, product recalls, and other important information relating to safety and public awareness, are found in this category.

One passenger (name withheld pending notification of next of kin) was killed, one sustained moderate injuries, and the driver, Chang Thao age 22 of McKinleyville, was severely injured as his Honda Civic (shown in the photo) spun out of control after passing another vehicle going northbound on US-101, south of Redcrest, Calif.  According to a press release from the Calif. Highway Patrol, the accident happened around 7 pm last Fri., Dec., 26, 2013. The Honda was the only vehicle involved in the accident, and according to the press release DUI does not appear to be a factor in this collision. More details can be viewed in the press release below.

 

CHP Press Release:
On 12/26/2013, at approximately 1858 hours, Chang Thao, age 22, of Mckinleyville, CA, was driving a 2000 Honda Civic northbound on US-101, south of Redcrest, CA. The vehicle was traveling in the #1 lane, at approximately 60 mph.  After passing a truck tractor towing a semi-trailer, the Honda moved into the #2 lane.  As the Honda proceeded northbound it began to travel onto the shoulder of US-101.  It then came in contact with the guardrail. Chang Thao steered the Honda to the left in an attempt to return the vehicle to the traffic lanes. Chang Thao lost control of the vehicle and it spun out of control northwesterly across all lanes of traffic. The Honda continued onto the southbound shoulder of US-101 where it stuck a raised asphalt curb.  The impact caused the Honda to overturn.  Ultimately, the Honda’s passenger side roof and door impacted a large diameter Redwood tree west of the west Roadway edge of US-101.

Due to the collision, the vehicle’s right front passenger, (name being withheld pending notification of the next of kin), age 58, unknown city of residence, suffered fatal injuries.  The left rear passenger, Ampoung Lee, age 47, unknown city of residence, received moderate injuries and was transported to Redwood Memorial Hospital.  Chang Thao, driver, was transported to Redwood Memorial Hospital with major injuries.

The Garberville CHP Office is handling the collision investigation, with assistance from the Humboldt County Coroner’s Office.

DUI does not appear to be a factor in this collision.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Medicare open enrollment ends Dec. 7, 2013

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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.

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.

Press Release:
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:

www.californiabenefitexchange.com

www.californiahealthbenefitexchange.com

www.coveredcalifornia.com

www.shopinsuranceexchange.us

www.shopinsuranceservices.com

www.healthexchangeinsurance.com

www.shopforhealthcare.org

www.taxcreditinsurance.com

www.smallbusinesshealthoptionsprogram.com

www.stateexchanges.org

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

To contact Covered California directly, call (800) 300-1506 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Assistance by phone is also available in the following languages:

Arabic: 800-826-6317

Armenian: 800-996-1009

Chinese: 800-300-1533

Farsi: 800-921-8879

Filipino: 800-983-8816

Hmong: 800-771-2156nie

Khmer: 800-906-8528

Korean: 800-738-9116

Lao: 800-357-7976

Russian: 800-778-7695

Spanish: 800-300-0213

Vietnamese: 800-652-9528

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.

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