Ambulance use and abuse education provided through Care Share newsletter

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Joni Schaff

Senior Center News

Our volunteers were quite busy this week at the Hardin Senior Center.

A second nutrition survey was conducted by Tiffani Schubert of the Big Horn Hospital with the clients who are participating. The results will be shared by Tiffani in a few months when completed.

Decorators for the senior center in March included Miriam Old Coyote, Etta Kollekowski, Elaine Malensek, Cliff Arbogast and Margaret Arbogast. As of March 7, the center is now filled with lots of lucky charms of the Irish.

A donation was made to the local Child and Family Services of toothbrushes, combs and hairbrushes. In all, there were 29 new toothbrushes and more than two dozen new hair combs. These items are placed in backpacks for the children on their journey.

Newly-elected Seniors Association President Betty Jean Seder conducted the seniors meeting on Friday, March 9. The members present agreed that it would be of importance to let patrons know that reservations for meals should be made by 10 a.m. each day, as well as if you are not going to be at the center and had signed up earlier. On birthday dinner week, you must sign up by 4 p.m. the prior day. This includes all congregate, home-delivered and pickup meals. Any cancellations should be called in to the senior center at

(406) 665-2581 the day before. For members who have paid their dues, you also must call to make your dinner reservation in your birthday month. There will no longer be special invitation phone calls made. Everyone’s cooperation is appreciated.

Next week’s activities include the C.O.A. board meeting at 10 a.m. on Thursday, March 15, blarney stones are being made by bakers Amy and LeAnn for March 16, the birthday dinner is on Wednesday, March 21, and bingo is on Tuesday and Thursday.

The Care Share newsletter for March educates us on “Ambulance Use and Abuse.” The following are some excerpts from the Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) that help Medicare beneficiaries.

“Ambulance costs are driven by the need for highly-skilled and trained drivers and attendants, the requirement to be available at every hour of every day, and the cost of the equipment available on board to treat and stabilize a patient in an emergency situation.

“Medicare Part B covers ambulance transportation to or from the hospital when other transportation, e.g. car or taxi, could endanger a patient’s health.

“Medicare defines an ambulance as a vehicle designed and equipped to respond to medical emergencies.

“Medically-necessary transport will be covered only to the nearest appropriate medical facility. Medicare will only cover the ride to the nearest facility and you will be responsible for the remainder of the bill.

“Medicare also will cover air ambulance services if needed.

“What medical conditions are deemed by Medicare to require ambulance transportation? If you are in shock, unconscious or bleeding heavily, or need skilled medical treatment while being transported. Air transportation will be covered if your pickup location is not reasonably accessible by ground transportation or if distance or traffic conditions may delay the care you need.

“Ambulance transportation in non-emergency situations may be covered with a written order from your doctor saying that such transportation is medically necessary. This typically occurs when a patient is confined to bed and unable to sit in a chair or wheelchair.

“If you call for an ambulance, but company personnel believe that Medicare may not pay for the service because your conditions does not warrant an ambulance, you must be provided with an Advance Beneficiary Notice (ABN) stating that the service will not be covered by Medicare. That way, if you choose to proceed with the ambulance trip, it is with the understanding that charges for the trip will be your responsibility.

“You are eligible for Medicare payment of ambulance services if you have Medicare Part B. There will be a 20 percent co-insurance charge along with the Part B deductible. Either or both of these amounts may be covered by your Medicare supplement. Hospital-to-hospital trips may be covered by Part A if the beneficiary is an inpatient at a hospital or skilled nursing facility.

“An improper practice that may take place is that an ambulance provider is billing a Medicare beneficiary directly for a trip that should be covered by Medicare. This is a way for a company to increase its revenues because Medicare will likely pay a prescribed rate that is less than the actual charge. Getting the beneficiary to pay the bill instead will help the company’s bottom line.

“Ambulance charges are in the details of your Medicare Summary Notice you receive. Make sure that the details of the ambulance charges correspond with your own records. If they don’t, you should first call the provider to ask for clarification. If you still aren’t satisfied, call 1-800-551-3191 for assistance.”

You’ve heard that new Medicare cards will be arriving. Remember, you will not be contacted by Medicare to confirm any information. In Montana, the new cards will start arriving June 2018. If you receive such a phone call saying that your card won’t be sent until you provide certain information or that they need your old Medicare card number in order for you to get a new card, don’t fall for the scam.

The Hardin Senior Center is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Call us at (406) 665-2581.