ABERDEEN – Representatives from Three Rivers Planning and Development District appeared before the board of supervisors June 7 to propose a state health insurance assistance program pertaining to Medicare prescription drug plan counseling.
Open enrollment is from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7, and there will be no cost to the county or individuals for the counseling service.
“Anyone who has a Medicare prescription drug plan can search through open enrollment for a cheaper plan. If they find one, it starts January 1. If a person does not have a Medicare prescription drug plan, that’s the only time they can get a prescription drug plan, and it will start January 1,” said Wade Holland, Medicare counselor at Three Rivers.
Holland does a drug plan comparison through Medicare.gov to find those eligible the best rates for the following year.
“What we’ve found in the last four years is that 80 percent of the people needed a change and they would save money by changing their drug plan during open enrollment,” he said.
Three Rivers Planning and Development District Executive Director Randy Kelly said last year 1,600 people contacted the agency about the program, and 541 changed plans.
“Eighty percent of them saved $100 a month by flipping them,” he said, adding it’s hard for some residents to drive to Three River’s headquarters in Pontotoc for the counseling.
Through the partnership, Three Rivers will provide a counselor for the nine weeks of open enrollment in exchange for office space with a telephone and internet access.
Supervisors agreed to the partnership and will allow office space for a representative to help those 65 and older interested in the program. Later in the meeting, supervisors discussed potential places in Aberdeen and Amory and will decide locations in both towns at a later meeting. Discussion indicated the counselor will be available from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays during the open enrollment dates.
“We’re grateful and thankful you’ve taken on this task just to help the citizens out. For some, it’s needed, and I take my hat off to you,” said District 5 Supervisor Hosea Bogan.
Three Rivers representatives and the board had an executive session, which included discussion of a delinquent garbage bill on property owned by Raymond Lochridge.
A lien is on the property due to former residents, who occupied a quarter of an acre, not paying their garbage bill for years. Even though the occupants have since passed away, the property has incurred the lien, and the board cannot, by law, give authority to forgive it.
Later in the meeting, board attorney David Houston confirmed the former occupants were being sent their bills rather than Lochridge and because of that, he isn’t personally responsible for the delinquent bills, but the property is still liable.
County chancery clerk Ronnie Boozer asked the board’s wishes about tax assessment adjustments on buildings damaged or destroyed by the April 13 and 14 severe weather outbreak. Similar action was taken following 2011’s Smithville tornado.
“We’re allowed, in a situation like this, when there is a declaration from MEMA and FEMA to go back and do, based on the percentage of the year, [assessments] of what buildings were there and are not there in a situation of a hurricane or a tornado,” said county tax assessor Mitzi Presley.
The county hasn’t received a federal declaration yet but by supervisors’ approval, she can begin the adjusted assessment process. Presley said reports indicate the damage is widespread throughout several parts of the county but she didn’t have an exact number. She said there are probably as many structures damaged as were with the Smithville tornado.
“If you think it’s the best thing for our residents,” said District 3 Supervisor Chip Chism.
Presley said it’s helpful to those who have suffered. The assessments will be adjusted through future reports as buildings are repaired and built back.