Medicare offers assistance programs for low-income seniors

By Joni Schaff / Council on Aging Dir.
Thursday, March 28, 2019
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Springtime in Montana was welcomed at Hardin Senior Center with a round of applause on March 20. What a beautiful day it was!

Seventy-four patrons attended the birthday dinner. Special birthday guests included Jean Koebbe, Royal Noyes, Kathy Koch, Joyce Buckingham, Rosalind Stern, Tom Warren, Betty Jean Seder, Don Redding and Debra Warren. The hostesses were Hazel Zier and Patty Nordquist. Special treats and decorations were provided by the two ladies. Tom Warren and Kathy Koch won two lucky shamrock plants.

The birthday cake was decorated with colors of the month, green and yellow, was donated by Shirley and Cliff Groombridge, and came from Reese and Ray’s IGA in Hardin. First Interstate Bank sponsored the birthday meal at both our senior centers. The Seniors’ Association donated to the Council on Aging for meals and transportation programs. Shirley Margheim won $46 from the 50-50 drawing. Our appreciation is sent to all participants and volunteers during the birthday dinner. It’s always a happy gathering.

Coming up the first week of April is bingo on Tuesday, April 2 at 12:30 p.m. Volunteers are need to help decorate the center at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, April 3. This is also the week you can view April’s Photo of The Month. The April Birthday/Easter Dinner will be held on Wednesday, April 17. Low-income seniors may qualify for the Qualified Medicare Beneficiary (QMB) program. It is one of four Medicare Saving Programs established by Medicare. This program is designed to help lowincome Medicare beneficiaries pay their Medicare Part A and Part B premiums, and a portion of Medicare coverage costs such as deductibles and coinsurance.

A Medicare beneficiary who qualifies for QMB automatically will qualify for the Medicare Part D Extra Help program that provides financial assistance with Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage, like monthly premiums, deductibles and drug costs.

State Medicaid programs pay Medicare Part A premiums, Medicaid Part B premiums, Medicare deductibles and Medicare coinsurance amounts for Medicare services for those who qualify for QMB. Medicaid also pays for Medicare Part D prescription drug plan premiums on certain plans and a portion of Medicare drug costs may also be included. If you qualify for the QMB Medicare Savings Program, you could save a substantial amount of money on Part A and Part B premiums, and Part D prescription drug coverage.

To be qualified for QMB, you must be a Medicare beneficiary and be enrolled in Medicare Part A, be a resident of the state where you are applying for QMB benefits, and have limited income and assets or financial resources. Specifically, to qualify for QMB you must have income and assets meeting 100 percent of the Federal Poverty Level.

QMB income and resource limits in 2019 are for individual monthly income limits of $1,061 and resource limits of $7,730, and for married couples with monthly income limits of $1,430 and resource limits of $11,600. Your financial resources or assets that count toward QMB eligibility include your checking accounts, savings accounts, and investments such as stocks, bonds and mutual funds. Some of your property that will not count as when qualifying for QMB include your primary home where you or your spouse lives, your primary car, furniture/personal items, a pre-paid burial plot and a limited burial plan.

Please note the Federal Poverty Level can, and usually does, change each year, so the income and resource limits for the QMB program can change each year. To apply for the QMB program, you will need to contact your local state Medicaid office at 1-808-706-1535 or a State Health Insurance Assistance Program Counselor that can assist you at 1-800-551-3191.

If you do not meet the lowincome financial requirements to qualify for the QMB program, you still may have some of your Medicare costs covered by one of the other Medicare Savings Programs. These include Specified Low-Income Medicare Beneficiary Program, which helps pay Medicare Part B premiums; Qualifying Individual program, which helps pay Medicare Part B premiums; and Qualified Disabled and Working Individuals Program, which helps pay Medicare Part A premiums.

Hardin Senior Center MENU

Thursday, March 28 – baked potato w/broccoli and cheese, vegetable, dessert

Friday, March 29 – cook’s choice

Monday, April 1 – macaroni and cheese, bratwurst, vegetable, salad dessert

Tuesday, April 2 – white chili soup, sandwich, dessert

Wednesday, April 3 – Swiss steak potatoes, vegetable, salad dessert

Thursday, April 4 – chicken potatoes, gravy, vegetables, salad, dessert

Lodge Grass Senior Center MENU

Friday, March 15 – chicken noodle soup, bologna sandwich, fruit, cottage cheese, cookie

Monday, March 18 – hamburger gravy, bread, corn, mashed potatoes, peaches, salad, angel food cake 

Wednesday, March 20 – Birthday dinner: cube steaks, cake and ice cream