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News Affecting Seniors

Do Medicare/Medi-Cal “Dual Eligibles” Have to Pay Co-pays? By Jenna MacRae Many low-income individuals have both Medicare and Medi-Cal (sometimes referred to as Dual Eligibles). Dual Eligibiles should never be charged co-pays or deductibles for their Medicare Part A (hospital) and Part B (medical) benefits. In fact, it is illegal for a doctor, hospital or other Medicare health-care provider to “balance bill” and charge dual eligibles Medicare co-pays.1 Despite both federal and state law1 , EL&A’s HICAP Program has heard dual eligibles report that they frequently pay these co-pays. Surprisingly, many health-care providers do not know or are confused by these laws. Some dual eligibles have been told, “we don’t accept Medi-Cal, but you can see the doctor if you pay 20%.” Others simply receive a bill in the mail. Either way, these charges are illegal. Whether the dual eligible uses Original Medicare or is enrolled in a Medicare Advantage Plan, such as a Medicare HMO,2 they should not be charged co-pays for Medicare Part A or Part B...

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News Affecting Seniors

Tax Scams By Sharon Lee Tax filing season brings new opportunities for scam artists and other criminals to prey upon victims. Recently, the IRS released its list of popular tax scams for 2016: https://www.irs.gov/uac/Newsroom/IRS-Wraps-Up-the-Dirty-Dozen-List-of-Tax-Scams-for-2016. EL&A clients have frequently complained about unsolicited phone calls from aggressive, unknown individuals impersonating IRS agents. These fake IRS agents have threatened to send police officers to arrest the victim in his or her home unless the victim immediately transfers money to the caller. Usually, the caller demands that the victim transfer the money by a prepaid debit card or wire transfer. The callers often employ extreme urgency into the calls and high-pressure tactics. Once the transfer is completed, the caller disappears. Because the perpetrator cannot be identified or located, victims and law enforcement cannot pursue criminal or civil legal action. In the end, the victim is unable to retrieve his or her money. Please note that the IRS will never initiate contact with taxpayers via email or telephone, require a specific payment method, request...

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