Jersey Magazine with Jim Monaghan

Jersey Magazine with Jim Monaghan

Jersey Magazine with Jim Monaghan

As we get older, there are two things that we find ourselves navigating through – Social Security and Medicare.

Both of them are pretty confusing, especially Medicare. Rebecca Kinney, the director of the Office of Healthcare Information and Counseling at the Administration for Community Living offers some helpful information.

Why Medicare is so hard to navigate

It’s health insurance. And health insurance is really complicated no matter how you’re getting access to that insurance, whether you’re paying for it yourself, getting it through an employer plan, or if you’re someone who’s eligible for Medicare and getting your insurance through Medicare.

It’s evolved a lot since it was originally established in 1965. It’s important for folks to take time and really sort through what is happening with their Medicare so they can make good, educated decisions on their coverage.

There are private insurance companies that contract with Medicare to provide coverage. So we’ve got lots of Medicare Advantage plans, also known as Part C, available across the country. And also the Medicare prescription drug coverage is also offered through private insurance companies.

So all of these companies are sending out information on their plans and what’s available and it can be really overwhelming for folks to understand what they’re looking at, what all this means, and how to make a decision.

That’s where one of the programs that I oversee comes into play.

It’s known as the State Health Insurance Assistance Program, also known as the SHIP. And it is a federally funded program that is available free because it is federally funded and it is also unbiased.

We are not associated with any insurance companies to really provide one-on-one assistance to Medicare and release to sort through all of those different things that they get in the mail and the questions that they might have on Medicare.

We help them navigate all of that, really understand what choices they have to make and what their options are and will help them get enrolled as well once they make a decision on a particular plan or set of plan coverage.

We can help them get enrolled in those decisions.

Medicare obstacles

The biggest thing is really that confusion and complication that we’ve been talking about. Everyone who is on Medicare is overwhelmed by that in particular.

Another big thing that we see is, you know, a lot of folks on Medicare, they’re retired, they’re living on a fixed income and they may have really limited income and assets available to help them pay for their health coverage but also their other needs, housing, food, right?

It can be hard to really figure out how can you pay, how can I afford to pay for all of these different things.

In our program, we help folks, we screen them for programs that are available to help them pay for their Medicare in particular, those premiums and copays.

If they look like they might be eligible, we’ll help them get enrolled as well.

So we’ll go through the process of helping them gather all the documents and getting the information onto the applications needed to access those benefits to help them pay for their Medicare benefits.

We also can connect them to other programs that might help them pay for those other things like food and housing. If they might be eligible to try to ensure that people are getting the access to all the benefits that they might be eligible for to help them afford their daily needs.

Recent changes to Medicare

We have a real expansion of the different private health insurance plans that are available
to help cover Medicare, those Medicare advantage and Part D plans.

The number of plans available has really grown, which is an important element for folks to navigate through. But more recently, there have been a few changes that have expanded Medicare coverage and reduced costs for Medicare beneficiaries, no matter their income.

Some examples of that include the change that happened in 2023 to reduce copay for insulin to $35, whether someone takes insulin through a pump or if they self-administer that insulin, their copay now is only $35 a month per insulin product, which in some cases has made a huge difference for folks.

Insulin has been very expensive and that reduction, it doesn’t matter what plan you’re enrolled in, your insulin copay should be no more than $35 a month for each product.

Another change is ensuring that vaccines are available free of charge to Medicare beneficiaries.

Things like the shingles vaccine and RSV vaccine are now available to Medicare beneficiaries free of charge, trying to ensure that folks get access to those preventative benefits to try to avoid those illnesses that can have extreme negative consequences for folks if they get them.

There’s also been an expansion for one of the programs that helped pay for Medicare.

Again, I was talking about this earlier, if somebody has limited income and assets and are really struggling to pay for their prescription drug costs, starting January 4th of this year, the extra help program was expanded.

Some more people are eligible for that program to help reduce the premium for part D possibly down to zero, depending on the options that are available and really reduce the copays at the pharmacy as well.

It really makes a big difference for folks who are eligible for those things.

Protecting yourself from Medicare fraud

Medicare unfortunately is a pretty big target for fraud schemes and we see a lot of things related to again, tele-health has been because the coverage for that is expanded.

We see durable medical equipment that things like wheelchairs, braces, insulin products and supplies.

They are a huge target for fraud as well and so fraudsters also use COVID as a way to try to scam people into giving them their personal information and then they would go and build Medicare for tens of thousands of dollars of things that were never provided and never received and really just pocketing that money.

It’s a real big problem and so what we try to encourage folks to do is one, be careful. Don’t give out your personal information that includes your Medicare number to anyone you don’t know. Only provide that to your healthcare providers.

Second thing, pay attention to your explanation of benefits or your Medicare summary notices that come in and show what services have been billed on your behalf and make sure those are things you actually received.

It’s a good idea to kind of keep track of all of your appointments and who you saw, which dates those types of things. Kind of use a healthcare tracker to kind of keep track of that and compare that to your explanation of benefits.

If you see something that looks funny or you don’t understand or it seems a little fishy, you can contact our program too and we will help you take a look at that and we work very closely with the Office Inspector General and Medicare.

When things look like they might have been fraud, we get them into the investigators hands as quickly as possible.

For WDHA and WMTR listeners here in New Jersey who want more information about the State Health Insurance Assistance Program, please go to shiphelp.org.

  • Bonnie-Jill Laflin - Women Firsts In Sports

    March is Women’s History Month. Friday, March 8th was also International Women’s Day.

    Bonnie-Jill Laflin has a brand new book out – In A League Of Her Own – Celebrating Female Firsts In Sports.

    Choosing the subjects

    JIM MONAGHAN – There were names we know in the book, and there were many that we don’t know. How did you go about picking who to use in the book?

    BONNIE-JILL LAFLIN – Yeah, you are spot on. That’s what I wanted. I wanted the ones that you know of, the Billie Jean King, the Layla Ali, the Danica Patrick’s.

    But then I also wanted some hidden gems, like Manon Rhéaume, the first female to be in an NHL hockey game. Julie Krone, first female jockey, to be in a Breeders Cup and win it.

    So it was really important for me to have different facets of women in the book, from athletes, but then women who were in the front office, and coaches, and so forth, and to show younger generation and the younger women that there is a space for them.

    And what that looks like, and it kind of resonates with all different women, not just one demographic.

    Building a legacy

    JM – There’s a quote in the book, and it’s from Bill Russell in the chapter on Jayne Kennedy.  He says, and I’m paraphrasing here – “You don’t know it yet, but you’re building a legacy.”

    A little bit later on, Jayne said, “In the moment, it was never that big. I was just doing my job.”

    You’ve been in that moment of doing something for the first time as a woman in sports.  What did that feel like for you?

    BL – It’s funny, because you don’t realize until sometimes you’re removed from a gym. And Danica Patrick said the same thing.

    She didn’t realize she was a role model until she was removed from the sport. And I didn’t realize it either until you start getting these messages from younger women and mothers saying, thank you so much for even writing this book, because now my daughter has a space. She feels that she knows that she can be in a male-dominated world and succeed and thrive. And so that was so important.

    We all feel like that at some point. Jayne Kennedy was saying how Oprah end up coming to her and saying, I looked up to you. We imagine it’s having Oprah saying they looked up to you!

    I mean, how amazing is that? All these women, they all were so humble, Jim, that they had done so much for the sport and so much on this platform and didn’t really realize
    what they had done.

    We want to celebrate them, not just during Women’s History Month or International Women’s Day, but every day. And then like I always reiterate, not just to fill a quota for a woman, but that these women are talented and deserving to be in these roles.

    JM – There’s a chapter on Mary Lou Retton. We all know who Mary Lou Retton is. I thought it was interesting that both you and she referred to Nadia Comăneci as one of those inspirations.

    Here’s a girl from Romania. And you know what the Soviet Union is like at that time. And here she is inspiring all of these kids around the world.

    Again, you go back to that, but you don’t realize it at the time. She’s just and just competing in the Olympics. And here are generations later still being inspired by her.

    BL – Right. And I don’t think the younger generation knew so much about Nadia. And for me, as a young girl, I watched her story, her journey moving from Romania to the States, her struggle with weight, her struggle of being accepted and feeling like she had to fit in.

    Mary Lou spoke about her as well. I loved her story, looked up to her, was able to meet her. And just fascinated, like you said, a little girl like me was so enamored by her. And now she’s in my book. And we’re all have this common goal to celebrate women. And Mary Lou as well.

    She’s been battling a lot of health and was still so receptive to me and was so excited and honored. She’s like, I can’t believe you’d have me in your book. I’m like, what? You’re America’s sweetheart. You’re Mary Lou Retton. And you’re on the box, my Wheaties box. I told my dad, you can’t eat this Wheaties box because we have to save it.

    So it was kind of a surreal, Jim, when you kind of just start to put it all together that, wow, all of us have done so much. But I don’t think we really realize it sometimes.

    JM – I want to go back to Jayne Kennedy for a moment. She was helped by two people during her career.

    One was Irv Cross. And it’s not lost on me that Irv Cross was also a minority in a business while dominated by men, certainly not men of color, at least not at the time.

    You mentioned too, at one point, Kobe Bryant, being such an inspiration to you in your career with the Lakers as a scout.

    BL – Yes, absolutely. And I was really down one day because someone had this hit piece on me. I’ll say it, The Boston Globe.

    I was really upset. I was crying. We were during the NBA finals, which he had, Kobe had other things to focus on, except me crying on the plane.

    But he was a mentor to me. He was a girl dad even before that was popular, being a girl dad. And he was so embraced women in sports.

    He was so upset that someone had attacked me. And he said, you know what? This is good. You want the naysayers. He goes, you want the haters. He goes, you want the doubters. He’s like, because that’s going to fuel you. That’s going to give you the fire. That’s going to be your chip on your shoulder.

    He always would say he would play with a chip on his shoulder, even when he’d win all these championships. And so he kind of really had me zone in on, you know, turning out the outside noise, focusing on my goal and proving people wrong.

    It really made me, even to who I am today, where I’ve got this thick skin, nothing offends me. I pushed through resilient tenacity work ethic. And I think that’s that resonated with all the women.

    But it’s the haters, you know. And a lot of us, you know, we didn’t deal with social media. Like in the beginning of my career, I didn’t deal with as much as, you know, towards now what I’m dealing with.

    The social media, a lot of the women, they said, they were like, we’re so happy. They didn’t have social media. And they’re like, I don’t know if I would have been able to handle it, you know?

    So there’s something to be said with that as well that they didn’t have that. But at the same point, some of these women didn’t have the social media. So they didn’t have the platform or the highlight on them.  That’s why I wanted to make sure that they were celebrated and highlighted in my book.

    Nancy Lieberman

    JM – Nancy Lieberman, her name came to mind recently with Caitlin Clark being in the news, setting the brand new NCAA D1 record. And already, and you mentioned social media already, it started. Well, Pete Maravich, if he had had the 3point shot… like come on, let her celebrate this. This is an amazing achievement.

    BL – Oh, Jim, you’re speaking at exactly what I said. I said, you look at the comments and of course, Pistol Pete, you know, they’re talking about how she played in some of more games.  There wasn’t the three ball. But it’s like she’s still doing something so fascinating.

    But because she’s a female, people want to minimize it. And what she’s done for a women’s basketball, people don’t watch women’s basketball.

    Oh, yeah, a little bit.

    But now they’re all watching. Everyone was watching that game. I wish it was a little more dramatic than just her, you know, from the line.

    Still, it was so great to see that she had accomplished that.

    And she’s so humble. You know, if you look at her, she’s so humble. She’s such a great role model. And what she’s doing, not just for women’s basketball, but what she’s doing for all of us, women in sports.

    So I want to do a second book because I need her in my books. I am such a fan girl. I love Caitlin Clark.  I even have her jersey. I bought it because I was like, I have to go.

    The Taylor Swift Effect

    JM – She’s not in sports. So there’s no first here, but it’s Taylor Swift.

    I can’t help but think of the number of young girls who are watching football as a result of this. Maybe sitting down with their older brother or their father or whatever.

    They’re watching football, and they’re seeing someone, and I’ll throw a name out like Erin Andrews, who’s not in your book, but maybe in the next one. Watching Erin Andrews on the sidelines going, “I want to do that.”

    BL – Yes, and that was funny because someone asked me when I was at Super Bowl during Radio Row, what is my take on Taylor Swift? And I think people were surprised.

    My take is she’s amazing because she is bringing female fans to the sport. I have finally, I mean, I’m speaking to all these dads, athletes who are, you know, dads, like my daughter, I’m a football player, I’m a Hall of Fame. She won’t watch a football game with me. She’s sitting here watching the Buffalo Bills, Kansas City Chiefs game with me.

    You know, that is crazy. And so wow, that she has that impact.

    Now you’ve got all these female fans that want to watch, not just Chiefs games, but any game. And so I’m all for that because that’s bringing this females, you know, to the NFL.

    So why would people hate on her?  She’s going to a game to see her boyfriend. And now she’s bringing all these female fans.  I’m all for it.

    JM – I know you were the first female NBA scout. Is that still the case? There have been no other females?

    BL – It is. I don’t know why. I mean, Dr. Jerry Buss, the late Dr. Jerry Buss, he was very forward thinking and he really wanted, he really embraced females and all facets of sports.

    So he really took a chance on me and worked out. I was there 13 years with the Lakers, got five rings and I’m still very close to the organization and I love the Lakers till I die.

    JM – Major League Baseball seems to have done a really good job with that. And in fact, locally here, Anthony Volpe, who’s going to be the starting shortstop again with the Yankees, part of the recruiting process for him with the Yankees was a scout by the name of Kelly Rodman, who did an amazing job.

    One of my best friends in baseball, as a matter of fact, his daughter is high up in the scouting department with the Miami Marlins. So I think Major League Baseball has really done an extraordinary job there.

    BL – Absolutely.  I don’t know if you know, but Rachel Balkovec, who’s actually in my book, she was with the Yankees Minor Leagues. And she now is a director, a player personnel for the Marlins.

    She really, which I love about Rachel, that she really started at the bottom, you know, in the minor leagues in the farm system and then worked her way up.  And, you know, she’s doing phenomenal.  Now she’s director, player personnel.  So I think it’s phenomenal.

  • Brian Reyngoudt - Operation K9 Beethoven

     

    JIM MONAGHAN – Brian Reyngoudt is the co-founder and vice president of Operation K9 Beethoven. Brian, for WDHA and WMTR listeners who are new to this, tell them what your program does.
    BRIAN REYNGOUDT – Operation K9 Beethoven is that we help our veterans one paw at a time like we like to say. We rescue dogs from euthanasia off the streets, kill shelters, we bring them back to health.
    Our goal is to train them to become psychiatric service dogs. And we give them away for free to our veterans at no cost to them. So no money comes out of their pocket. And these dogs get trained to become their psychiatric service animal.

    JM – How do you vet the dogs that you that you come into to make sure that they’re right for this program?

    BR – We work with several trainers who will evaluate them to make sure that their temperament is good. You have to have a calm, cool, collective animal to be trained as a psychiatric service dog so that that dog can go out in public with the veteran, the human being.

    JM – And what kind of a financial investment does that require for each dog?

    BR – Each dog giver take is about $6,000. That is the cost for the training, getting the dog, going through the vet, getting it, you know, it’s shots and whatever it needs, food, transportation. So the veteran, like I said, doesn’t pay no money to us. So from all the sales that we do with our merchandise, as well as donations, that’s how we were able to get that dog to that veteran.

    JM – We have dogs come up to the radio station all the time with Terrie Carr in the Rock N Ruff program and to watch the mood in the building changed no matter how stressful a day may be, Brian, you get a dog or two coming in and it’s just, it’s incredible have a dog or a pet just in general can change the mood of a workplace, a home, any kind of environment.

    BR – Absolutely. I get to see it also all the time. I mean, we also along with our program, we have another program, which is our pet therapy program, where Beethoven and all of his friends, they go to schools, they go to rehabs, they go to veterans homes, they go to hospitals and being able to see when those dogs walk in, the staff, the patients, everybody their faces just light up.

    JM – Tell us about Beethoven.

    BR – Beethoven is a German Shepherd. He’s the real boss, as we like to say, he’s the CEO and he travels all throughout the state of New Jersey along with all of his friends and Parker and Duffy and all of them. And we’re really getting really big with our therapy program. It’s really taken off within the last several months, which is great. I mean, everybody wants us to come.

    JM – I know you have an event coming up in early April on Sunday, 7th. Tell our WDHA and WMTR listeners about that, Brian.

    BR – We’re going to do this thing for the first time. We’re going to have an informative experience speakers who will discuss and answer questions regarding the GI Bill, PTSD, veteran benefits claims, substance abuse, and family support, and the benefits of having a psychiatric service dog.

    We’re also going to have our therapy dog team there where they can come down and hang out with Duffy, Shadow, Luna, Sophie, Blaze, Chase, Zola. And we’re going to be serving and refreshments, light refreshments.

    If your listeners want to take part in it, you can email us at [email protected] or you can shoot us a text for an RSVP because we want to make sure we have enough food for everybody.

    That phone number is 201-587-9338. The place is located in Saddlebrook, New Jersey, VFW Post, 3484, 44 Market Street in Saddlebrook, New Jersey, Jim.

    JM – And what time will that be, Brian?

    BR – That’s going to be starting at 3 PM.

    JM – So that is on Sunday, April 7th. We encourage our WDHA and WMTR listeners to attend if they are at all able for listeners, Brian, who want to make a donation. Maybe they can’t come that day, but they want to make a donation to the Operation K9 Beethoven program. How do they go about doing that?

    They can go right over our website at operationk9beethoven.com and you can smash the donate button. Every little bit helps.

  • Rock N Ruff

    Hi Animal Lovers,

    We finish our “Trifecta Of Cuteness” third video with our friends from Gingerbread House Animal Rescue and Sanctuary Gingerbread Dogs Dot Org   

    This great group reached out to Rock N’ Ruff a while back to gain some attention to the beautiful, small dogs, many seniors, and many Pekinese in their care. I have known many people who have adopted from Gingerbread House and they have a wonderful reputation for rescue, caring, and vetting the dogs they take in, Lynn their founder brought a carriage full of pups to her visit and we decided to break them into groups! So cute and so. much fun.

    This week we highlight “Bodie and Spaulding”….. Both of these pups require a bit of patience and lots of love.

    Bodie

    Bodie is small, a purebred Pekinese, super gorgeous, and best in a child-free home (as he was purchased and brought into a home with small children and did not have a great experience) He is chill, learning to trust and doing GREAT in his foster home. He is decompressing and learning to be a dog.

    Spaulding

    Spaulding Spaulding has a similar history, is pure Pekinese, and needs an adult-only home. He is energetic and fun…..a bigger guy (not fat, it’s the type of Pekinese he is!) he knows basic commands, is housebroken, and would make a great companion in an adult home.

    More From Gingerbread House Rescue

    Fill out an application to adopt a great pup from Gingerbread House Animal Rescue, click here

    And don’t forget to check out all of our pups that need homes (Franklin is one of my faves ) Franklin

    And check out all of our dogs on the Rock N’ Ruff page WDHA’s Rock N’ Ruff

    And all pet-related news on the TC Rock N’ Ruff Roundtable page  TC’s Rock N’ Ruff Roundtable

    Including the search for local missing Boston Terrier “Meep” and how you can help – Find Meep

    As always, “Opt To Adopt”

  • Coach Sheets' Ride In

    Jeremy Sheetinger is the head baseball coach at Georgia Gwinnett College where he led the Grizz Gang to the 2021 NAIA National Championship.

    These quick hits may, on the surface, be geared toward his fellow baseball coaches, but his motivational message can easily be applied to the classroom, workplace, and your personal relationships.

    This week, Coach Sheets’ advice is to lean into the wrinkles and the gray.

  • Local Look

    Looking for something fun to do in the area? Chris Swendeman has you covered with this week’s Local Look.

    There are always so many fun events happening in our local communities.  Check out what’s in store for this week in New Jersey.

    • It’s just about time to go green and celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Today, there are multiple parades going on that include celebrations in West Orange, Woodbridge, Rumson, Hackettstown, Asbury, Park and Bergenfield.  Check your local town’s website for the most updated times and information.
    • And now through next Saturday, March 16, bring your appetite to Jersey City for Jersey City’s Restaurant Week.  From Greenville to Grove Street, you can find your new favorite food venue in one of the most diverse food cities in the country.  Visit JCRestaurantFest.com for participating restaurants and further details.

     

    And that’s your Local Look for this week on The Jersey Magazine.  If you’d like your event to be featured on The Local Look, you can email us at [email protected].  See you next week on 105.5 WDHA.

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