Category: New & Events

All post for news and events.

Thursday, 1/28/21, Academy Point at Mystic Offers Meal for “Soup-er Heros”

As a “thank you,” Academy Point at Mystic is inviting their professional partners to pick up a delicious meal for two of homemade soup, salad and dessert! Reservations must be made by calling the number provided below by January 27th.

APM Souper Dash n Dine

Thursday, January 28

3 – 5 p.m.

Hosted Virtually by Academy Point at Mystic

As a thank you to all our professional partners, we invite you to pick up a delicious meal for two of homemade soup, salad and dessert.

Reservations are a must. Thank you for being a Soup-er Hero!

Kindly RSVP by January 27 to 860-536-1133.

IRS Sends Second Round of Stimulus Payments

What You Should Know:

On December 27, 2020, the fourth COVID-19 relief package was signed into law. The $900 billion relief package, the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, was combined with a larger omnibus bill that included annual government funding for Fiscal Year 2021.

This relief package included a second round of Economic Impact Payments (EIPs). The IRS began sending EIPs by direct deposits on December 29, and paper checks began to be mailed on December 30. Pre-paid debit cards (EIP Cards) have been mailed out in January. The IRS has planned to complete sending all payments by Friday, January 15, 2021. In this round, the payments are $600 for individuals or $1,200 for married couples, plus another $600 for each child under the age of 17, with the amounts phased out at higher income levels.

In general, everyone who received a payment in the first round will automatically receive a second payment, including those who receive Social Security retirement, survivor or disability benefits, Railroad Retirement benefits, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, and Veterans Affairs benefits. Anyone who missed deadlines to register for a payment (or had other issues with receiving a payment) will be able to claim it in the form of a refundable tax credit when they file their tax return for 2020 in 2021.

Because these payments are like tax refunds, the funds are not counted as income or as a resource for determining eligibility for SSI and other needs-based benefits for a period of 12 months from receipt. The Social Security Administration (SSA) has issued instructions for the treatment of these payments for SSI purposes, available for download here. Although SSA issued these instructions when the first round of EIPs were being sent under the CARES Act, they also apply to the second round of EIPs.

However, like the previous round of EIPs, people who are undocumented, lack Social Security numbers (SSN), file with an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), or adults who were claimed as dependents on another’s taxes are not eligible for an EIP under the second round.

For this round of payments, there is a significant change in eligibility for households where one spouse has a work-eligible SSN and the other spouse does not. In the first round, the general rule was that families where only one member of a married couple had an SSN were not eligible. The new law changes that so that both the spouse with a work-eligible SSN and the qualifying children in the family are eligible for a payment, even if the other spouse is not work eligible. These families can claim both rounds of payments by filing a 2020 tax return in 2021.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:

NCLER: Stimulus Payments and Representative Payees: What You Need to Know

AARP Warns: COVID-19 Vaccine Scams a Growing Problem

Fraudsters prey on people eager for hard-to-get coronavirus vaccinations

by Katherine Skiba, AARP, January 12, 2021 | Comments: 1

Coronavirus vaccine vial with gloves and money in the background

SOME MEANS/GETTY IMAGES

An ad for the COVID-19 vaccine on Craigslist. Telephone offers of home delivery of the vaccine. Text messages inviting you to set up an appointment for a coronavirus vaccination. Offers of “leftover” vaccine supposedly up for grabs.

When it comes to vaccine scams, federal and state officials have seen it all. And during what has been a confused rollout of the sought-after shots, a top official at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) warns that more scams are ahead.

“It’s a growing problem. We’re going to start seeing these types of scams increase,” says Nenette Day, an assistant special agent in charge of the watchdog arm of HHS. Complaints about vaccines scams are made daily, with multiple complaints on some days, and they come from across the U.S., she says.


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Day, 53, a former FBI agent and a 20-year veteran of federal law enforcement, says what is most worrisome to her is what Interpol has reported happening in three countries in Asia: People are getting injected with what is billed as a COVID-19 vaccine but in fact is something else, such as an antibiotic or water.

Vaccine scams emerge from coast to coast

Her observations come amid scam warnings from officials from coast to coast about criminals seeking money or sensitive data from unsuspecting consumers who simply want to protect themselves from the deadly virus.

In Florida, Attorney General Ashley Moody said last week that criminal prosecutors and consumer-protection investigators in her office are pursuing reports of scammers “taking money in exchange for phony COVID-19 vaccine reservations.” Some counties in her state have turned to ticketing services such as Eventbrite to schedule appointments, but “no county is charging for vaccine reservations,” she said. Be wary of websites with pop-up ads for a vaccine appointment, Moody urged.

In Iowa, Attorney General Tom Miller said something that bears repeating: “Scammers follow the headlines, and they’ll take advantage of our excitement, confusion and other emotions.” In Iowa, there have been reports of a scammer contacting residents “to sell a ticket of some kind to you or an older adult guaranteeing a place on a waiting list” for the vaccine, Miller said.

Attorney General Weiser

COURTESY ATTORNEY GENERAL WEISER

Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser says older Americans will be the group most preyed upon by vaccine scammers.

In Colorado, Attorney General Phil Weiser issued a warning about vaccine scams targeted at older folks. “A lot of the older Coloradans, who may be more trusting and willing to pick up the phone, are going to be those who are most preyed on and victims of such scams,” he said. “Whether it’s your parents or grandparents — anyone you know who is vulnerable — please encourage them to be on their guard.”

Feds issue vaccine scam alert

Day works for the HHS Office of Inspector General, which joined the FBI and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services in an alert last month about vaccine scams. The Dec. 21 alert came a week after a New York nurse became the first person in the U.S. to get a dose of the two-part vaccine. “We continue to work diligently with law enforcement partners and the private sector to identify cyber threats and fraud in all forms,” the agencies said.

The alert said the public should be aware of these potential indicators of fraud.

  • Advertisements or offers for early access to a vaccine upon payment of a deposit or fee.
  • Requests to pay out of pocket to obtain the vaccine or to put your name on a COVID-19 vaccine waiting list.
  • Offers to undergo additional medical testing or procedures when obtaining a vaccine.
  • Marketers offering to sell and/or ship doses of a vaccine, domestically or internationally, in exchange for payment of a deposit or fee.
  • Unsolicited emails, telephone calls or personal contact from someone claiming to be from a medical office, insurance company or COVID-19 vaccine center and requesting personal and/or medical information to determine eligibility to participate in clinical vaccine trials or obtain the vaccine.
  • Claims of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for a vaccine that cannot be verified.
  • Advertisements for vaccines through social media platforms, emails, telephone calls, online or from unsolicited/unknown sources.
  • Individuals contacting you in person, by phone or by email to tell you that government officials require you to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

The agencies offered these tips for avoiding COVID-19 vaccine fraud

  • Consult your state’s health department website for up-to-date information about authorized vaccine distribution channels. Obtain a vaccine only through such channels
  • Check the FDA’s website for current information about vaccine emergency use authorizations.
  • Consult your primary care physician before having any vaccination.
  • Don’t share your personal or health information with anyone other than known, trusted medical professionals.
  • Check your medical bills and insurance explanation of benefits (EOBs) for suspicious claims, and promptly report errors to your health insurance provider.
  • Follow guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other trusted medical professionals.

At HHS, Day urges people to also turn to their county health departments for advice.

Nenette Day portrait

HHS/OIG

HHS official Nenette Day warns that COVID-19 scams will grow as vaccines are given to the general public..

See something, say something

Importantly, consumers who receive a suspicious call or text about the vaccine, for example, should do their due diligence at the time — not after the fact, she says. Don’t give up money or personal or medical information and then have second thoughts “after the genie’s already out of the bottle.” No legitimate entity will object if you hang up saying you are planning to independently verify whether an offer is genuine.

Day says that if consumers suspect COVID-19 health care fraud involving Medicare, they should report it to her agency’s hotline at tips.hhs.gov or by calling 800-HHS-TIPS (800-447-8477).

Coronavirus-related calls — including those about vaccine scams — to the hotline have already surpassed 180,000, says Day. “I feel very confident in saying we’re probably one of the best places to report it,” she adds, “because we have a robust capacity to get the vaccination fraud (complaint) in front of the right people.”

State attorneys general are also taking COVID-19 fraud reports. Day says that telling your local health department is another option.

AARP’s Fraud Watch Network can help you spot and avoid scams. Sign up for free Watchdog Alerts, review our scam-tracking map, or call our toll-free fraud helpline at 877-908-3360 if you or a loved one suspect you’ve been a victim.

More on Scams and Frauds

COACH: COVID-19 Assistance for Community Health, Counseling Services in Response to COVID-19

The COACH works on the fact that most people are resilient and have a built-in ability to recover from or adjust to misfortune or change such as the COVID-19 pandemic. This is one of the most important factors in fostering individual and community recovery and is an essential element of COACH. We don’t approach people ready to diagnose. We ask them how they think they are doing and what’s working well for them. To foster resilience, COACH assists participants to connect with others who understand and accept their feelings. Participants should be encouraged to maintain a positive view of themselves and their abilities to find solutions to their concerns. COACH providers can model effective communications and teach participants coping skills to help them manage strong emotions and impulses. For example, all individuals can learn Adult Breathing Retraining to help themselves decrease anxiety and decrease stress.

To learn more about COACH visit ctstronger.org/COACH or call 211.

2/26/21 Free On-line Webinar, Connecticut Department of Banking and CT Senior Medicare Patrol

Older Americans lose $2.6 billion or more annually due to elder financial abuse and exploitation and it’s estimated 60 billion is lost annually due to Medicare Fraud. Unfortunately, it occurs in every demographic and can happen to anyone—a family member, a neighbor, even you. It is estimated that only one in five of these crimes are discovered. Scammers are using COVID-19 as an opportunity to exploit people. Education is the key to prevention. In this presentation, you will learn about COVID-19 Scams affecting Medicare Beneficiaries and general banking scams that people should look out for.

Learn about Medicare COVID scams and general banking scams everyone should look out for….

Friday February 26, 2021, 10:30 am to Noon

Presenters:

Kisha Hull, SMP Coordinator of Volunteers at Agency on Aging South Central CT.

Kathleen Titsworth, Banking Outreach Coordinator at Connecticut Department of Banking

Pre-registration required. https://www.aoascc.org/forms/smp-webinar/ or call 203-785-8533 Ext 3162 Recording will be available post event.

Governor Lamont Announces Tiered Approach To Phase 1b Vaccine Appointments

Focus Remains on Appointments for Individuals Older Than 75; Individuals 65+ Will Be Next, Followed by Individuals With a High-Risk Condition and Frontline Essential Workers; Vaccine Clinics in Congregate Settings Will Occur Throughout

(HARTFORD, CT) – With nearly 1.4 million individuals included in Phase 1b of Connecticut’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout and the state anticipating to receive about 45,000 doses of vaccine per week from the federal government, Governor Ned Lamont today announced that he is directing the Connecticut Department of Public Health to proceed through the remaining groups in the phase with a tiered approach based on risk of adverse health outcomes from the virus. The governor is directing the implementation be done in an equitable way, with vaccine distribution points focused in areas where residents and communities have barriers to access and care.

The tiered approach to Phase 1b will proceed as follows:

  • Scheduling now: Individuals over the age of 75
  • Scheduling next (likely early February): Individuals between the ages of 65 and 74
  • Scheduling soon (likely late February or early March): Frontline essential workers and individuals with underlying medical conditions who have an increased risk for severe illness

The roll-out of the vaccine to staff and residents of congregate living settings will be phased in throughout Phase 1b.

More information about the definitions of frontline essential workers and the list of eligible underlying medical conditions will be made available in the next several weeks.

“We are working to administer the vaccine to as many people as possible, but the greatest barrier continues to be our supply as we are only scheduled to receive about 45,000 doses of the vaccine per week, while 1.4 million people are eligible under phase 1b,” Governor Lamont said. “That is why we are working to roll this out in a way that gets the vaccine to the people who are at greatest risk first. The good news is that we are seeing an overwhelming number of people in our state who want to receive the vaccine – and that is a key component of keeping our residents safe from COVID-19. In the meantime, our administration will continue doing everything we can to get more doses of the vaccine into Connecticut as quickly as possible.”

“We have begun in earnest vaccinations of our 75 and older population,” Acting Public Health Commissioner Dr. Deidre Gifford said. “We have dozens of large vaccination clinics up and running throughout the state with more coming online soon. In order to vaccinate our 75 plus residents as quickly as possible so that we can move on to the other groups within 1b, it is critical that we focus on getting shots in the arms of those elderly and most vulnerable residents. We continue to ask for everyone’s patience as we proceed through Phase 1b and on to subsequent phases. As you patiently wait your turn for vaccination, please remember to continue wearing masks, social distancing, practicing good hand hygiene and gathering only with the members of your own household.”

Also today, the Department of Public Health sent a communication to all school districts, local health departments, and vaccine providers requesting that anyone who has an appointment for Friday of this week or later cancel these appointments unless they are over the age of 75 or if they were eligible to receive vaccine as part of Phase 1a. Similarly, vaccine providers with clinics scheduled past this Thursday that are not devoted to individuals 75 and over or eligible in Phase 1a are being asked to cancel those clinics. This is being done in order to ensure that Connecticut’s focus on individuals over the age of 75 is maintained.

As of Sunday, January 17, approximately 221,000 doses of vaccine have been administered in Connecticut since the vaccine program’s inception, including 196,000 first doses. Connecticut has administered 71 percent of the total doses it has received from the federal government, including 92 percent of doses allocated for all healthcare organizations and local health departments, placing the state in the top five of states for administering the COVID-19 vaccine.

For the most up-to-date information on COVID-19 vaccination distribution plans in Connecticut, visit ct.gov/covidvaccine.

Consumer Voice Releases Report Re: Effect of Facility Lockdown on Residents; Recommendations and Resources

The Devastating Effect of Lockdowns on Residents of Long-Term Care Facilities During COVID-19
On March 13, 2020, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a lockdown order, banning everyone but essential personnel from entering nursing homes. As a result, nursing home residents began a months-long period of isolation – cut off from their families. Those who could took advantage of electronic visitation, but because of a lack of resources or due to a resident’s medical condition, this was not possible for all residents. The lockdown severely restricted families’ ability to monitor their loved ones’ care. Further compounding isolation was CMS’s barring of state survey agencies and long-term care ombudsmen from entering homes.  Consumer Voice had grave concerns that lockdowns would exacerbate pre-existing staffing shortages and result in harm to residents.

After CMS began to relax visitation rules, Consumer Voice heard from families that had met with their loved ones for the first time in over six months.  Families reported that their loved ones had suffered extreme weight loss, physical decline, mental and cognitive decline, and exhibited clear signs of neglect and abuse.  Almost invariably, residents seemed unkempt and displayed a lack of hygienic care.  Often, residents were missing personal effects.

To further understand the effects of the lockdown on residents, we created a family member survey.  Unfortunately, the responses confirmed our concerns.  Consumer Voice has produced this report summarizing the responses to the survey.  The results demonstrate that in many instances, the effects of the facility lockdown have been just as devastating as COVID-19 to nursing home residents.  The report details immediate steps that must be taken to address the neglect and suffering occurring in nursing homes, including the expansion of compassionate care visits.   Read the report.
Read Consumer Voice’s recommendations on compassionate care. 
Find resources for family members on how to advocate for their loved ones in facilities.

COVID-19 Vaccine Safety: A Fireside Chat with CMS, CDC, and A Representative from Consumer Voice Wednesday, January 20, 2021 4:00pm ET

Join the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Consumer Voice for a fireside chat on vaccine safety. This is the fourth discussion in a special series, a part of the CMS National Nursing Home Stakeholder Call Series, aimed at addressing questions and concerns about the new COVID-19 vaccines. Each session is moderated by CMS with speakers from CDC and representatives of front line staff, providers, and consumers. 

This chat will focus on the voice of long term care residents, families, and advocates.  

Panelists:

  • Dr. Lee Fleisher, CMS Chief Medical Officer and Director, Center for Clinical Standards and Quality (CMS)
  • Dr. Amanda Cohn, Chief Medical Officer (Acting), Office of Vaccine Policy, Preparedness, and Global Health, Office of the Director (CDC)
  • Evan Shulman, Director, Division of Nursing Homes (CMS)
  • Robyn Grant, Director of Public Policy and Advocacy at the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care

 
Preparing for the call:

 
Target Audience: Long term care residents, families, and advocates.
 
Register in advance for this webinar.
(After registering, you will receive a confirmation email)