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Regional Meetings Kick Off

About two dozen VEA-Retired members are savvier about navigating Medicare and the Internet, thanks to a conference Wednesday put on by the VEA-Retired.

The VEA-Retired regional meeting in Chesterfield helped keep the seniors informed about the maze of Medicare regulations and benefits. Later, participants received a briefing on VEA's Legislative Agenda and then learned about the latest techie gadgets they might want to check out. Members in Chesterfield, Richmond, Amelia, and Hopewell attended the meeting at the Chesterfield Central Library.

The regional meeting, one of five that VEA-Retired is putting on around the commonwealth, brings retired members important updates on topics they need to know, pointed out Barbara Mann, who chairs the Chesterfield Education Association-Retired. "This is a wonderful opportunity to let everyone know the latest on a topic like Medicare so they'll be aware of everything that's going on," she said.

Indeed, Linda Caruthers, an expert on senior issues who presented on the latest changes Medicare, packed a considerable amount of explanation and advice into an hour-long discussion. She explained the various components of Medicare, made the distinctions between Medicare, Medicare Advantage, and Medicaid, and offered tips on advocating for one's health in retirement. Her tips included:
• "Do not ignore or discard correspondence from Social Security and Medicare." Some recipients discard important letters thinking they are junk mail.
• Do not cancel any health insurance policy (primary or supplementary) before you have a confirmation, in writing, that your new policy has started.
• "Be sure your physicians accept Medicare" before you schedule a visit.
• Get adequate coverage for prescription drugs, which can be extremely expensive for those lacking good insurance. "Even if you're not taking prescription drugs now, get a plan and prepare. You don't know that the future might hold."
• "Consult with someone you trust" to help sort out your insurance options and plan for your needs. Caruthers singled out NEA Member Benefits (NEA MB) as a great source of trusted information and one of the best providers of Medicare supplemental coverage. "It is one of the NEA's best kept secrets," she said. "It's a very, very valuable benefit for you as you go into your retirement."
• "Remember that there is no one-size-fits-all policy." Choose policies that fit your individual needs.

Rob Jones, director of VEA government relations and research, explained to retired members that those still in classrooms face an extremely tough road on school funding. Many teachers have had their salaries frozen, local governments face declining revenues due to the housing crisis, and state lawmakers have begun shorting essential contributions into the Virginia Retirement System, which provides pensions to teachers.
"We need to ask ourselves -- If we are 41st in the country in taxes, can we have the best schools, health, public safety, and roads?" Jones said.


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