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Senior citizens from Chester, Portola, Greenville and Quincy attended last Monday’s inaugural Plumas Senior Summit at the Quincy Vets Hall. Participants discussed health insurance, transportation issues, landlord and tenant legal rights and the funding outlook for senior programs.
The chairwoman of the Plumas Commission on Aging, Nancy Lund, greeted the 40 attendees and Jonathan Kusel, director of the Sierra Institute, moderated the meeting. Featured speakers included Sue Good, Northern California Legal Services; Marty Byrnes, chairman of the Social Services Transportation Advisory Council; Joe Cobbery, director of Passages, the Area Agency on Aging nonprofit in Chico; and Tatiana Fessieux from the Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program.
Supervisors Lori Simpson and Sherrie Thrall, and county staff from public works, public health, social services adult protective services and the Community Development Commission also participated in the event.
Highlights and results from the workgroups include:
Transportation — the need for coordination between existing services to address out-of-county medical appointments and using the Plumas Community Connections volunteer program as one way to meet individual needs.
Funding — the need to educate legislators and to focus on important legislators who sit on appropriations and other committees in the state Legislature and federal Congress.
Medical — one of the residents raised the concerns that local medical providers turn people away from the clinics and redirect them to the emergency room and that older patients have difficulty in finding providers willing to take them as new patients.
MediCal — “The reimbursement formulas for Medicare are changing and include an annual wellness provision. MediCal, on the other hand, is controlled at the state level and needs the reimbursement formulas to be changed, but keeps getting kicked down the road, because it is so complicated,” said Fessieux. She added that Passages offers Welcome to Medicare workshops (passagescenter.org).
Legal — Sue Good reported that landlord regulations are not set up for rural areas and that sequestration cuts haven’t happened for housing in rural areas yet. One of the biggest issues for tenants is balancing conflicting needs in mixed age and mixed needs residential housing complexes. Another issue is the need for another level of resolution to resolve differences or problems with landlords out of the courts.
Cobbery responded to Kusel’s call for closing remarks, stating that Passages also offers a Caregiver 101 class. The two-hour class includes tips and tools for people who may need a caregiver in the future or have one now. He added that Passages has a supportive program for caregivers that included a retreat at Greenhorn Ranch last year. Funds are shorter this year, but he hopes to maintain the program.
When a class is scheduled, fliers for the class will be on the public health website and will also be distributed.
At the close, Chairwoman Lund thanked everyone for attending and announced that this would be the last big event for her to organize. She encouraged those in attendance to take action on the items discussed.
Lund has been the driving force behind the Plumas County Commission on Aging for at least the last 10 of her 95 years of age. The group erupted in applause and thanked Lund for bringing everyone together for the day. Kudos were also given to the Quincy Senior Nutrition staff for refreshments and a delicious lunch and to the senior transportation staff for driving seniors coming from Chester and Portola.
Materials from the meeting about the Affordable Care Act and “How to Protect Yourself and Your Medicare Benefits” are available at http://bit.ly/plumas-seniors or by contacting public health at 283-6337.
For more information on a variety of topics for seniors visit passagescenter.org, and for the Social Services Trans Advisory Council see http://bit.ly/plumas_sstac. Plumas Senior Nutrition and Transportation Services is a program of the Plumas County Public Health Agency with funding from the Area Agency on Aging under the Older Americans Act and the Plumas Transportation Commission.
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