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Colorado PEAK offers help to seniors

SUN Columnist

PEAK stands for Program Eligibility and Application Kit and has been developed by the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing (HCPF), Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS) and the Governor’s Office of Information Technology (OIT).

PEAK offers the following.

“Am I Eligible” screens for:

• Colorado Works/TANF.

• Adult Financial programs.

• Aid to the needy/disabled.

• Aid to the blind.

• Supplemental Social Security income/Colorado supplement.

• Old age pension.

• Home care allowance.

• Burial assistance.

• Food assistance-SNAP (formerly food stamps).

“Apply For Benefits” includes:

• All of the above and medical assistance programs.

How do I learn more about assistance programs?

• View the program overviews at Colorado.gov/PEAK.

• Visit Colorado.gov/cdhs for food or cash assistance programs.

• Visit Colorado.gov/hcpf for medical program information.

Does PEAK determine eligibility?

Eligibility for medical assistance may be determined on PEAK. In some cases, a medical assistance application will need to be forwarded to an eligibility determination site. For food and cash assistance, PEAK forwards the application to a county office which determines the eligibility for the household.

Will an applicant know they are approved for benefits instantly after submitting an online application?

It depends on the programs for which the applicant applies. For medical assistance, an applicant may know instantly if they are approved. For food and cash assistance, applications are sent to a county eligibility office because PEAK does not determine eligibility for these programs.

Will there be training on PEAK? When and where?

Visit Colorado.gov/PEAK for a calendar of scheduled trainings and materials.

Whom do I contact for questions about the benefit programs?

• Your county office (264-2182).

• For medical program information visit Colorado.gov/hcpf or call the Customer Contact Center at (800) 221-3943.

• For food and/or cash assistance information visit Colorado.gov/cdhs.

Energy help from LEAP

The Colorado LEAP program is a federally funded, state-supervised, county-administered system and is designed to assist with your winter heating costs. The LEAP Program eligibility period runs from Nov. 1 through April 30.

LEAP is not intended to pay the entire cost of home heating. If you are applying for assistance, continue to pay your home heating bill.

Applications are available at the Archuleta County Department of Human Services offices located at 551 Hot Springs Blvd.

County LEAP offices have up to 50 calendar days to process a non-emergency LEAP application. Most non-emergency applications take between 25-35 days to process.

Mail your LEAP application along with all your other verification documents such as heating fuel bill, driver license, proof of income in the envelope provided in the mail packet sent to you.

How do I report fraud?

Colorado Department of Human Services relies on its employees, agencies/counties that receive funds from CDHS, and the community to help contribute to the prevention, detection and deterrence of fraud.

Please report client benefit fraud to your local county Department of Human Services.  If you need additional assistance, call the confidential, toll free CDHS Fraud Hotline.

The fraud referral will either be investigated by the CDHS Audit Division or referred to the appropriate contact for further investigation.

If you suspect any other irregularities or behaviors thought to be evidence of fraudulent actions related to the Colorado Department of Human Services report immediately to the confidential, toll free CDHS Fraud Hotline.

Report fraud by e-mail: colette.kreger@state.co.us (type ”Fraud Referral” in the subject line of the e-mail).

Report fraud by fax: (303) 866 7332.

Report fraud by Mail: CDHS Audit Division, 4126 S. Knox Ct. Denver, CO 80236.

Provide as much information as possible, including, but not limited, to the following:

• The name of the individual or organization.

• The address of the individual or organization.

• The individuals living in the household.

• The date of the alleged misconduct.

• A detailed description explaining why you suspect fraud or abuse.

• Contact information.

Medicare open enrollment

Rescreen your prescription drug plan every year, don’t wait, call now for an appointment.

Medicare open enrollment continues to Dec. 7.

Medicare is stronger than ever with more benefits, better choices and lower costs to beneficiaries. Expanded Medicare benefits under the health care law (the Affordable Care Act) continue to be available, including certain free preventive benefits, cancer screenings and an annual wellness visit. Whether you choose Original Medicare or a Medicare Advantage plan, take advantage of Open Enrollment to review cost, coverage or both for next year (2014).

• More benefits: Certain preventive benefits, including cancer screenings, are available with no cost to patients when furnished by qualified and participating health professionals. The annual wellness visit allows people to sit down and discuss with their doctor their health care needs and the best ways to stay healthy.

• Better choices: Medicare will notify beneficiaries about plan performance and use its online Plan Finder to encourage enrollment in quality plans.

• Lower costs: Average premiums for 2014 for prescription drug coverage and Medicare health plans will remain stable. People who are in the “donut hole” in Medicare’s prescription drug benefit will enjoy approximately 53 percent discounts on covered brand name drugs and see increased savings on generic drugs.

The new Health Insurance Marketplace won’t affect your Medicare coverage and is not part of Medicare Open Enrollment. Medicare is not part of the Health Insurance Marketplace. You do not need to enroll in the new Health Insurance Marketplace to maintain or change your Medicare coverage.

Your health needs change from year to year. And, your health plan may change the benefits and costs each year too. That’s why it’s important to evaluate your Medicare choices regularly. Open Enrollment is the one time of year when all people with Medicare can see what new benefits Medicare has to offer and make changes to their coverage.

It’s worth it to take the time to review and compare, but you

don’t have to do it alone. Medicare is available to help.

• Call your local SHIP office (located at the Senior Center) at 264-2167 for an appointment to help navigate you through the process and provide information.

• Visit www.medicare.gov/find-a-plan to compare your current coverage with all of the options that are available in your area, and enroll in a new plan if you decide to make a change.

• Call 1-800-633-4227 24 hours a day/seven days a week to find out more about your coverage options. TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048.

• Review the “Medicare & You” 2014 handbook. It is mailed to people with Medicare in September.

• If you have limited income and resources, you may be able to get Extra Help paying your prescription drug coverage costs.

Extra Help 

Medicare’s “Extra Help” program helps people with limited income to pay for their prescription medications.

Making ends meet should not mean going without your medications. If you have limited income and resources, Medicare’s “Extra Help” program sets it up so this year you might pay no more than $2.60 for each generic drug and $6.50 for each brand name drug. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services estimates that more than 2 million people with Medicare may be eligible for the subsidy, but are not currently enrolled to take advantage of these savings. A recent law changed how your income and assets are counted:

• Life insurance policies do not count as resources.

• Any help you get from relatives, friends and others to pay for household expenses—like food, mortgage, rent, heating fuel or gas, electricity, water, and property taxes—does not count as income.

Many people qualify and don’t know it.

The changes that took place in 2010 allowed more people than ever to qualify for “Extra Help.” Even if you were previously turned down for “Extra Help” due to income or resource levels, you should reapply. If you qualify, you will get help paying for Medicare prescription drug coverage premiums, copayments, and deductibles. To qualify, you must make less than $16,755 a year (or $22,695 for married couples). Even if your annual income is higher, you still may be able to get some extra help. Your resources must also be limited to $13,070 (or $26,120 for married couples). Resources include bank accounts, stocks, and bonds, but not your house or car.

There’s no cost or obligation to apply.

It’s easy and free to apply for “Extra Help.” You or a family member, trusted counselor, or caregiver can apply online at www.socialsecurity.gov/prescription help or call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY users should call 1-800-325-0778). All the information you give is confidential. Medicare beneficiaries can also receive assistance in their local communities from their State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) at 970-264-2167.

To learn more about Medicare prescription drug coverage, visit www.medicare.gov, or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048.

Chauffeur service

Your ride awaits you.

Catch our door-to-door bus and get out in the community while we do the driving. Get to where you need to go: grocery store, doctor’s office, pharmacy, hardware store, visit a friend, lunch at Cafe Fox or …?

The service is available Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday for seniors age 60-plus. Suggested donation is $2 per day.

What are you waiting for? Call for details, 264-2167.

Weekly activities

Friday, Nov. 1 — 10 a.m. Stitchin’ in the Kitchen; 10:30 a.m. brain injury support group; 12:30 p.m. gym walk during open gym.

Monday, Nov. 4 —12:30 a.m. gym walk, Medicare counseling by appointment.

Tuesday, Nov. 5 — Gym walk during open gym; 1 p.m. Meditation for Healing, Medicare counseling by appointment.

Wednesday, Nov. 6 — Medicare counseling by appointment.

Thursday, Nov. 7 — Medicare counseling by appointment.

Friday, Nov. 8 — 10 a.m. Stitchin’ in the Kitchen; 12:30 p.m. gym walk.

Cafe Fox menu

All meals include our great salad bar.

Friday, Nov. 1 — Burrito with green chili, Spanish rice, steamed carrots, lettuce and tomato, fresh apple.

Monday, Nov. 4 — Chicken with egg noodles, tossed salad, apple crisp, broccoli, whole wheat roll.

Tuesday, Nov. 5 — Cheeseburger on whole wheat bun, lettuce, tomato, pickle, baked French fries, baked beans, peaches.

Wednesday, Nov. 6 — Chicken enchiladas, lettuce and tomato, pinto beans, posole, bananas in a splash of OJ.

Thursday, Nov. 7 — Closed.

Friday, Nov. 8 — Sloppy joes, mixed veggies, spinach/Mandarin salad, brownie.

This story was posted on October 31, 2013.