Minnesota’s Senior LinkAge Line ready to assist Minnesotans with big Medicare changes during open enrollment

With the start of Medicare open enrollment on Oct. 15, the Minnesota Board on Aging’s Senior LInkAge Line is prepared to help Minnesotans navigate significant changes to Medicare plans.

Due to a change in federal law, Cost Plans, a type of Medicare plan popular in Minnesota, will no longer be available in 66 counties for 2019. This means that about 375,000 affected Minnesotans on Medicare will need to change plans.

Senior LinkAge Line, at 1-800-333-2433 and via chat at SeniorLinkAgeLine.com, is available to help Minnesotans on Medicare weigh their plan options by providing them with comprehensive, unbiased Medicare counseling. Senior LinkAge Line has temporarily extended its business hours and will be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Fridays.

“It’s important for consumers to review their health plans to make sure the plan is both affordable and provides access to doctors, clinics, hospitals and pharmacies they want and need,” said Kari Benson, executive director of the Minnesota Board on Aging.

Minnesota has the most beneficiaries on Cost Plans of any state in the nation, with about 400,000 of the 756,000 people on Cost Plans nationwide. A small number of Minnesotans with Cost Plans will be able to keep their plans because they reside in counties that do not have enough other options. However, the majority of beneficiaries in Minnesota will have to change plans or risk returning to Original Medicare, which could be costly to individuals.

Also new this year is a Medicare Advantage Enrollment Period in 2019 during which someone with a Medicare Advantage plan can:

  • Switch to a different Medicare Advantage plan
  • Drop their Medicare Advantage plan and return to Original Medicare; or
  • Add or drop a standalone Part D prescription drug plan.

Upcoming key dates for Medicare-related events:

  • Oct. 15-Dec. 7, 2018 – Medicare Open Enrollment. Any Medicare beneficiary can choose a new plan during this time.
  • Nov. 2, 2018-March 5, 2019 - Beneficiaries who lost their Cost Plan and switched to Original Medicare for 2019 can buy Medicare Supplement coverage.
  • Dec. 8, 2018-Feb. 28, 2019 - Beneficiaries who lost their Cost Plan can choose a different Medicare Advantage Plan or Part D prescription drug plan than what they selected during open enrollment.
  • Jan. 1, 2019 - Medicare beneficiaries whose Cost Plan ended Dec. 31, 2018, and who did not enroll in a new plan will return to Original Medicare (Parts A & B only).
  • Jan. 1-March 31, 2019 – Medicare Advantage Enrollment Period (new for 2019) allows someone with a Medicare Advantage plan to switch to a different Medicare Advantage plan, or drop their Medicare Advantage plan and return to Original Medicare or add or drop a stand-alone Part D prescription drug plan.

More information about plans is available on the Medicare Plan Finder. More information about Medicare open enrollment in Minnesota can be found at SeniorLinkAgeLine.com.

Senior LinkAge Line, at 1-800-333-2433 is a free statewide service of the Minnesota Board on Aging in partnership with Minnesota’s Area Agencies on Aging. Senior LinkAge Line provides help to older Minnesotans, all Medicare beneficiaries, and their families and friends by helping them connect to local services, find answers and get the help they need.

LAS VEGAS – Corrections workers have become the first group of state workers to ask to be recognized as AFSCME in contract negotiations since Nevada adopted a law in June giving state employees the right to collectively bargain.

The corrections unit filed for recognition Friday with the state’s Government Employee-Management Relations Board after majority of the staff asked to be represented in contract talks as AFSCME Local 4041.

This year’s winner of the Gerald W. McEntee Scholarship is someone who defends workers' rights, supports her community and is deeply involved in her union. 

We're excited to announce that AFSCME members who work for the State of Minnesota in Bargaining Units 2-7 have  voted officially to ratify the agreement reached in June. This contract agreement includes big gains for our workers.

Get all the details on the agreement at MemberLink now: go to members.afscmemn.org and hover on Negotiations, then click Bargaining Updates

My name is Amy. I want to share my story, and tell you why I’m proud of my union for standing up for families like mine. Last year, I found out I was pregnant for the first time. My husband and I were shocked, happy, and overwhelmed. I contacted my health care provider and followed up with prenatal visits. At eight weeks, I took an early chromosome test, which came back normal and indicated that we were having a boy. A few weeks later we’d named our baby Crosby and shared the exciting news with our friends and family.

Unions have a proud history of fighting for the rights of all working people. The right to access legal and affordable reproductive health care is a basic human right. I am proud that my union is fighting to keep politicians out of women’s health care decisions.

I am proud that my union has made the decision to stand up and join in the fight for choice so my daughters have the right to choose if, when, and how they will start a family. I am proud to be fighting for their rights - just like those before me fought for my rights.

Our union's mission is to fight for dignity, opportunity and prosperity for all. That mission cannot be accomplished until reproductive freedom and abortion access have been secured for everyone.

Healthcare is a human right – no exceptions. More than half of AFSCME Council 5’s 43,000 members are women, and they have a fundamental right to access the health care they need – including reproductive care and abortion access.