Friday, July 21, 2017

Renewal Season is Here

Please do not forget to renew

By Timothy Redd
If you are a recipient of Medicare Part B you may have received a renewal packet in the mail. Do not throw it away or ignore the renewal. You are eligible to time limited equitable relief if you are enrolled in a QHP and you are enrolled in premium Par A and you have an initial enrollment period that began April 1. 2013 or later or you were notified of retroactive premium free Part A on October 1, 2013 or later.

The Equitable Relief for Part B allows beneficiaries enroll in Medicare Part B with no penalty, eliminates part B late enrollment penalty in part B if the enrollment was delayed. 
In order to qualify for equitable relief for Part B:

  1. You must gather the appropriate documentation. Proof of your QHP enrollment is required which can be a letter showing that you are enrolled in both Medicare and a Marketplace plan. Proofs of premium payments and bills, IRS form 1095—A that shows months of coverage and subsidy amount.
  2. Call the SSA at 1800-772-1213 or to find a local Social Security office that you can visit in person.
  3. Once on the phone or in the office with a representative request to use limited equitable relief to enroll in part b and or eliminate Part B.
The deadline for the equitable relief for Part B is September 30, 2017. Because of the Affordable Care Act, the Bureau of TennCare handled the application  process for Medicare Savings Program effective January 1, 2014.  Enrollment was postponed because a computer system was not in place the verify eligibility. 

When the renewal packet comes in the mail you will have a letter informing you your due date in bold. It is recommended that you fax it back to prove Tennessee Health Connection received it. The fax number is 1-877-430-0843.
You can also call the TennCare Renewal Packet Number at 1-844-337-3348. You should wait at least 10 days before calling to verify the packet was received.

The Bureau of TennCare has 35 business days to process a pocket once it’s been received. If additional documentation is needed another 35 days can be added onto the processing time.

If you need further assistance contact State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) for Medicare participants at 1-877-801-0044. SHIP staff can verify the packet was received.

If you miss the deadline your premium will be deducted from SSA check and may be multiple months.  You will have 90 days to submit you packet in order to make your benefits retroactive. Premiums will be deducted until determination.

Friday, July 14, 2017

The Arc Warns that the Senate Republican Health Care Legislation Continues to Pose a Severe Threat to People with Disabilities

From the Arc:

Washington, DC – The Arc released the following statement following the release of the updated Senate Republicans’ health care legislation discussion draft: 

“A new draft, new talking points, same devastating impact on people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. It is disheartening to know that Senators were in their districts for the last week, yet the pleas of their constituents with disabilities have been ignored with the latest draft of this legislation. This response to the extensive and impressive outreach from the disability community is an insult to people with disabilities and their families. 

“The Better Care Reconciliation Act is an assault on people with disabilities and we implore Senators to do the right thing and oppose this bill. A vote in favor of this bill is a vote against the progress of the disability rights movement and constituents who rely on Medicaid for their independence,” said Peter Berns, CEO of The Arc.

On June 22, 2017, the Senate Budget Committee released a discussion draft of health care reform legislation, the “Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017” (“Senate bill”). The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released an analysis of the cost of the bill and the impact on health care coverage. CBO found that at least 22 million fewer individuals would have health care coverage by 2026. CBO also found that the Senate bill cuts Medicaid by $772 billion over 10 years, but the most severe cuts do not begin to take effect until 2025. Starting in 2025, the cuts are billions more than the cuts in the House bill and would increase significantly over time. CBO found that, compared to current law, Medicaid would decrease by 35% in 2036. 

The current discussion draft from the Senate did include a woefully inadequate home and community based four-year demonstration program for rural states.  A total of $8 billion is available over four years.  In contrast, the discussion draft retains the $19 billion dollar cut made to the Community First Choice Option which is a program available to any state that chooses the option with no end date.    

The Arc advocates for and serves people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), including Down syndrome, autism, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, cerebral palsy and other diagnoses. The Arc has a network of over 650 chapters across the country promoting and protecting the human rights of people with I/DD and actively supporting their full inclusion and participation in the community throughout their lifetimes and without regard to diagnosis.

Editor’s Note: The Arc is not an acronym; always refer to us as The Arc, not The ARC and never ARC. The Arc should be considered as a title or a phrase.


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Where in the World is Senator Lamar Alexander?

ADAPT Demands Sen. Alexander protect the health care of Tennesseans

By Allison Donald

The Senate has delayed the vote on a replacement to the Affordable Care Act. However, this week remains critical as Senate leadership will continue trying to cut deals with senators to get to 50 votes. People with disabilities need to make it clear that Medicaid is essential to us remaining in ours homes and in the community and should not be part of any reform or replacement. The bill at its core is a tax cut for wealthy at the expense of healthcare for the rest of us.

Mid-South ADAPT along with allies from the Tennessee Justice Center, Indivisible Memphis, Black Lives Matter, and the Memphis Coalition for Concerned Citizens visited the office of Senator Lamar Alexander.  We were there representing the 1.6 million Tennesseans who get comprehensive affordable health coverage through Medicaid.  Our demand is simple.  We want Senator Alexander to vote no to the Better Care Reconciliation Act and protect the liberties of Tennesseans especially Medicaid. 

“The proposed cuts to Medicaid,” said Mid-South ADAPT activist Michael Heinrich, who was arrested and dragged out of Speaker Mitch McConnell’s office last month, “will result in people paying more for healthcare coverage, but receiving less services.”

Fourteen activists filed into the office of Senator Lamar Alexander and took seats on the floor. We began to demand to speak with someone in the Washington DC office that had a direct line to Senator Alexander.  Mary Wooldridge the constituent representative took notes as each individual explained how the proposed cuts to Medicaid would affect their life.  Ms. Wooldridge, who is retired, said the healthcare issue doesn’t affect her because her coverage is from the phone company. The issue did not concern her.

After all of the personal testimonials were done Allison Donald repeated the demand for Ms. Wooldridge to get someone from the Washington DC office on the phone.  She then stated that she could not do so. 
“I will make 201 Poplar my home,” said Allison Donald the organizer for Mid-South ADAPT, “before I go into a nursing home.”

At that point the exchange ended. The sit-in began and ADAPT was not going anywhere.  We were in the office for about 30 minutes a security officer and an officer from the Department of Homeland Security entered and informed us that there were too many people in the office and that only four of us could be in the office at a time. Four people choose to stay: Tim Wheat (ADAPT), Michael Heinrich (ADAPT), Allison Donald (ADAPT), and Karen Spencer McGee (BLM). 

Ms. Wooldridge, who claimed that she was not able to get in contact with the Washington DC office, had her phone ring and Senator Alexander’s Washington DC office was on the other end. Allison Donald made arrangements to speak with Brandon Morton the scheduler for Lamar Alexander.

Officer James of Homeland Security informed us that we could not wait for the final arrangements in Senator Alexander’s office while Ms. Wooldridge conducted business.  He also stated that we could not protest inside of a federal building.  About fifteen minutes passed and Officer James issued his first warning for us to leave the office or be arrested. 

With the contact information in hand, the ADAPT activists met our colleagues downstairs to discuss the next steps. 

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Tennessee Property Tax Relief

Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury -- Property Tax Relief Program-

•    Elderly Homeowner
•    Disabled Homeowner
•    Disabled Veteran
•    Homeowner
•    Widow(er) of Disabled
•    Veteran Homeowner

What Are The Eligibility Requirements?

MUST BE 65 by 12/31/2016 and must provide evidence of age if you do not draw social security or if disability is not through social security. Must own home and use as primary residence. Maximum income for applicant, spouse and all owners of property $29,180. Maximum market value on which tax relief is calculated $23,500.

Must own home and use as primary residence. Maximum income for applicant, spouse and all owners of property $29,180. Maximum market value on which tax relief is calculated $23,500. Must be totally and permanently disabled -- Must have been rated totally and permanently disabled by Social Security Administration or other qualified agency on or before December 31, 2016.

Must own home and use as primary residence. Maximum market value on which tax relief is calculated $100,000. Must be totally and permanently disabled—Your disability must meet one of the following categories:

A service-connected disability that resulted in:
•    Paraplegia OR
•    Permanent paralysis of both legs and lower part of the body resulting from traumatic injury or disease to the spinal cord or brain; OR
•    Loss, or loss of use of, two (2) or more limbs; OR
•    Legal blindness
•    A total and permanent disability rating from a service-connected disability.
•    A 100% total and permanent disability rating from being a prisoner of war.

Must own home and use as primary residence. Maximum market value on which tax relief $100,000. Property tax relief shall also be extended to the surviving spouse of a disabled veteran who at the time of the disabled veteran’s death was eligible for disabled veterans’ property tax relief. If a subsequent amendment to the law would have made the deceased veteran eligible, then property tax relief shall also be extended to the surviving spouse. One of the above categories must be met; OR

•    Death resulting from (1) a service-connected, combat-related cause or (2) KIA (combat-related).
•    Death resulting from being (1) deployed, (2) away from any home base of training, and (3) in support of combat or peace operations.
•    *Must provide a copy of spouse’s death certificate.
•    *Must provide a form of personal ID such as your social security card, or driver’s license.
•    *Surviving spouse MUST have been married to the veteran at the time of death and NOT have remarried to be eligible.

For more information contact:
Kim Darden, Property Tax Relief Program Supervisor
Division of Property Assessments
505 Deaderick Street
Suite 1700, James K. Polk State Office Building
Nashville, TN 37243-1402
Phone (615) 747-8858