April 16th is National Healthcare Decisions Day. For the past eight years April 16th has been designated as a day to educate and encourage the public about the important issue of Advance Directives. Many of us care deeply about choice and our end of life care. National Health Care Decisions Day (NHDD) reminds us that we can take an active role
in those matters by selecting a health care proxy( and a back up proxy), by considering our wishes and imparting them to our proxy, health care professionals and other important people in our lives. The Health Care Proxy and a Living Will, documenting one’s wishes regarding end of life care, are the primary components of Advance Directives. The
National Healthcare Decisions Day website, www.nhdd.org, has a number of resources and links to assist with the process. Forms can be accessed online, printed and filled out. State specific forms are also available. Living
wills are not recognized in Massachusetts. Nonetheless a living will or item specifying your wishes can be given to your health care proxy and health care professionals to aid in potential decision making on your behalf. Also
available are conversation prompts and ideas for discussing the topic with family, friends and professionals. As mentioned here before smart phone apps can also be obtained for keeping your Advance Directive information
and that of loved ones at ready access. This is a difficult process for many. New tools, many of them online, can help to
make it easier. If you are not able to access online information easily or would like the opportunity to talk more about this issue, please contact me. Jocelyn Ehrhardt, MSW Outreach Coordinator
DID YOU KNOW…?
In 2013, Medicare paid for health services for approximately 51 million individuals at a cost of about $604 billion. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) estimated that improper payments—some of which may be fraudulent—were almost $50 billion. Fraud, waste, and abuse contribute to the rising cost of health care. Taxpayer dollars lost to fraud, waste, and abuse affect all of us. You can help stop fraud and abuse by reviewing your Medicare statement (Medicare Summary Notice – MSN) or Part D Explanation of Benefits (EOB) to make sure Medicare is not charged for items or services you did not receive. If you have a question or concern regarding a Medicare claim, you
should first discuss it directly with your physician, provider, or supplier that provided the service. Assistance is also available through the Massachusetts Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP), which is a group of trained volunteers who teach Medicare beneficiaries how to protect their personal information, identify and report errors on their health care
statements and report fraud and abuse to the proper authorities. You can contact the Massachusetts SMP program at Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley, 1-800-892-0890. For further assistance with any Medicare issue, contact the SHINE Program. Trained SHINE volunteers offer free, confidential counseling on all aspects of Medicare and
related health insurance programs. To schedule a SHINE appointment, call your local Senior Center. For other SHINE related matters, call 1-800-AGE-INFO (1-800-243-4636), then press or say 3. Once you get the SHINE answering machine, leave your name and number. A volunteer will call you back, as soon as possible.
Counselors: Pauline O’Bray/Linda Warren/Wayne Wirtanen
SHINE (Serving Health Insurance Needs of Everyone) appointments are available with our SHINE Counselors. Please call the Senior Center at 508-393-5035 to schedule your appointment.