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Government shutdown creates roadblock during Medicare open enrol - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

Government shutdown creates roadblock during Medicare open enrollment

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SHREVEPORT/BOSSIER CITY, La. -

As the clock continues to tick on the government shutdown, local agencies for the aging are forced to a temporary standstill on the first day of Medicare open enrollment.

"We get a notice from the Louisiana Department of Insurance in Baton Rouge to say hold off, the Medicare.gov site is not correct," explains Mary-Alice Rountree, Director of the Caddo Council on Aging.

That's because the website that contains all the vital information pertaining to Medicare insurance plans - and how they work - isn't up to date.

"[We were told] to wait until at least Monday, let them update the plans, because we don't want to give out the wrong information to our seniors."

Rountree says seniors who already have Medicare need to know that the Affordable Care Act Marketplace isn't for them.

"The Marketplace, remember, has nothing to do with Medicare. That's for people that are not insured."

The open enrollment period is for those who would like to shift from Advantage to Traditional Medicare, change health plans, or change drug coverage.

"Even if you're already in a prescription plan, every year you need to review it because often prescription plans change their formulary," says Tamara Crane, Director of the Bossier Council on Aging.

Crane also warns that open enrollment is a popular time for fraud, and for seniors to be on alert.

"Those plans you actually have to call them and ask about. They cannot call you. They cannot come door-to-door. Now, they can mail you information and respond if you mail them back."

The Department of Insurance says con artists posing as representatives of the federal government or insurance agents may try to steal consumers' money or identities.

Suspected fraud can be reported by calling 1-800-259-5300 or through the Report Insurance Fraud Link on the Dept. of Insurance's website.

 Rountree says the CCOA rescheduled all of today's appointments for next Monday at the direction of the Louisiana Dept. of Insurance.

But you can still get one-on-one help with Medicare through an appointment with the CCOA's Aging and Disability Resource Center. Just call (318) 676-7900.

The Bossier Council on Aging will be hosting a health and information fair next Friday, October 25th, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

It'll be at the BCOA, located at 706 Bearkat Drive, next to Bossier High School.

Free flu shots (with a Medicare card) will be available, as well as information on Medicare open enrollment.

Open enrollment lasts through December 7th.

Thursday, October 24th from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. will be Senior Day at the State Fair of Louisiana in Shreveport. 

There will be free parking and admission to the State Fair Grounds but fair visitors are encouraged to bring a canned good or non-perishable item to be donated to the Food Bank of Northwest Louisiana.

The event is sponsored by The Best of Times magazine.

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