Visitors to the Senior Center may know that we have collection boxes for a variety of items; used or unwanted glasses, cell phones, clothing and more. These items are collected and distributed by different charitable or civic groups. We recently added a collection box for the Northborough Food Pantry. A list of items
most needed by the Pantry is attached to the box. With the season of giving now behind us, this is an opportune time to remind people of the importance of continued giving to the Food Pantry throughout the year. The Senior Center has enjoyed a mutually beneficial and collaborative relationship with the Food Pantry. The Pantry has reached out to older adults through the Senior Center in many ways including, sharing surplus produce from the Community Garden, establishing monthly office hours for the Senior Center Outreach Coordinator at the Food Pantry and more. Involvement with the Food Pantry has alerted us to the needs of older residents that are not Senior Center participants. That in turn has led to, not only the sharing of resource information but, program development to address some unmet
needs. If you are able, consider your visits to the Senior Center as an opportunity to support another worthwhile community resource, the Northborough Food Pantry.
Jocelyn Ehrhardt, MSW
Hospital Observation Stays and Original Medicare
Hospitals are increasingly admitting patients under observation status. Patients under “observation” are considered outpatients even though they may stay in a hospital bed for many days. For those with Original Medicare, outpatient stays at a hospital could result in increased costs. For instance, Medicare requires a three-day inpatient stay at a hospital before it will pay for any stay in a skilled nursing facility and time spent under “observation” in a hospital will not count toward that three-day minimum. In addition, a Medicare Supplement (Medigap) will not cover any of the costs of the skilled nursing care if Medicare has not paid first. So patients with Original Medicare who have been under observation status, whether they have a Medigap or not, must decide whether to
pay out-of-pocket for the medically necessary rehab/skilled nursing care, or cut care short and return home, because they are unable to cover the costs. Medicare Advantage plans will cover costs of skilled nursing facility care, if it is medically necessary, because they do not have a three day minimum in a hospital stay requirement. However, in a Medicare Advantage plan, skilled nursing facility services are subject to copayments, which can be substantial. Currently, there are bills filed in both houses of Congress (the Improving Access to Medicare Coverage Act of 2013) requiring that time spent in “observation” be counted towards meeting the three-day prior inpatient stay that is necessary to qualify for Medicare coverage in a skilled nursing facility. All members of the Massachusetts delegation support this pending legislation.
Trained SHINE (Serving Health Insurance Needs of Everyone…on Medicare) volunteers offer free, confidential counseling on all aspects of health insurance to anyone on Medicare. 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 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.