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.
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.
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:
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.
An earthquake, first reported as magnitude 5.0 and later downgraded to 4.9, struck off the coast (52km west north west) of Eureka (32 miles WSW of Trinidad) this Fri. Oct. 11, 2013 at around 4:05 pm. The quake, was reported to be at a depth of 10.9 km., and, according to earthquake-report.com, was experienced by many as two strong jolts.
For some, this trembler came as an earthshaking reminder of the importance of being prepared for a major earthquake in our area, and it occurred less than one week before the planned Great ShakeOut Earthquake Drills which will take place this Thurs. Oct. 17 at 10:17 am. According to the Great ShakeOut web page, last year 9.4 million people participated in the drill. The ShakeOut began in California and has also been organized in many other states and countries, resulting in millions of people worldwide now practicing how to Drop, Cover, and Hold. See the information summarized below for reminders about earthquake safety. KMUD will participate in the Great ShakeOut Drill. Tune in Thurs. Oct. 17 at 10:17 am to participate.
Use the player below to hear more about the earthquake, in a story submitted by KMUD News Director Terri Klemetson and aired on the KMUD Local news Fri., Oct 11, 2013. The piece includes an interview with Humboldt State University Geology Professor Lori Dengler.
- Humboldt Earthquake Hotline: (707) 826-6020
- Great ShakeOut- California
- USGS Earthquake Hazards Program
General Guidelines for Earthquake Safety:
- DROP to the ground (before the earthquake drops you!),
- Take COVER by getting under a sturdy desk or table, and
- HOLD ON to it until the shaking stops.
If there isn’t a table or desk near you, drop to the ground in an inside corner of the building and cover your head and neck with your hands and arms. Do not try to run to another room just to get under a table.
These are general guidelines for most situations, depending on where you are (in bed, driving, in a theater, etc.). Click here for more information.
USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is issuing a public health alert due to concerns that illness caused by strains of Salmonella Heidelberg are associated with raw chicken products produced by Foster Farms at three facilities in California.