BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – Patrons at the Newberry Center in Fort Madison got a very real discussion on the pros and cons of Medicare and Medicaid health care programs Friday, courtesy of the The Madison.
The long-term care facility has been upping its presence at the senior center to help educate seniors on important facets of life they face as an aging population. The Madison is also bringing in some less heavy activities including BINGO and planned activities to help brighten the days for area seniors.
Holden Grandstaff, administrator of The Madison, said the facility recently hired Brian Wright as a marketing director for the facility and the Montrose Health Center to help become more a part of the community and get the word out about services.
On Friday, the Madison brought in five volunteers from the area’s Senior Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP) to provide a little straight talk to seniors about the differences in federal health insurance programs.
Dr. Charles Holmes, Dennis Osipovich and several other volunteers addressed seniors on new coverages by Medicare and Medicaid, and what hurdles there are to getting nursing home benefits.
The SHIIP program is not affiliated with any insurance group or organization but a volunteer information service that is available to state seniors.
Holmes, a retired dentist in Fort Madison, said one of the things seniors need to be aware of is when they are being charged for nursing home services, even on a temporary basis such as following a medical procedure.
He said Medicare has certain diagnoses they cover and some they don’t, but it’s up to the individual to make sure going into procedures, if they need extended care, to be clear on whether the stay is covered.
The group also talked about the benefits of Medicaid Advantage over traditional Medicaid programs, and Medicare vendors like UnitedHealth Care and Humana.
Grandstaff said The Madison is out of network with Humana, but the facility does contract with UnitedHealth.
“That’s the only Medicare Advantage insurance that we are contracted with so if you ever needed to come to us or wanted to stay locally, we’re not in network with them so you’d have to pay entirely out of pocket if you wanted to stay with us.”
Holmes said if a senior has a lot of medical issues and sees doctors regularly, the Medicare Advantage plan probably isn’t the best thing.
The three plans for Medicare Advantage are all under Humana, but those plans are not only limited for long-term care, but also for dental, vision and hearing. However the group was told that if they are in fairly good health and don’t regularly see physicians other than wellness exams a Medicare Advantage could make sense and save them some money
Holmes and Dennis Osipovich encouraged the seniors to shop their Medicare health coverage around and look at all the benefits including pharmaceutical to obtain the best cost options for their unique situations.
The Madison has also partnered with other groups in the area to offer other classes and events. BINGO is being held every Tuesday starting at 1:15 p.m. Cards are just .25 each with money and prizes for each winning BINGO.
An October Cookie Decorating class hosted by Bake A Wish by Cathy is set for Oct. 8, and a unique Cell Phone 101 has been planned for Nov. 5th sponsored by Conn Communications. All classes and events are free.
The Madison is close to breaking ground on a 50,000 square foot addition to the Fort Madison facility to help fill a void in the market.
“We just want to get the word out. We’ve got a lot of changes going on with our current building and our new addition coming,” Grandstaff said. “We’re just trying to have a more of a presence in the community.”