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RI Veterans: Did you know? (Thanksgiving, healthcare…) 17-11-22 – John A. Cianci

by John A. Cianci, contributing writer, veterans issues

Let’s start off with a question from one of our readers.

Veterans who use VA Health Care – Understanding Medicare and Medicare Part B

Q1:

 I turn 65 and will lose my coverage from the local police department. I also have Tricare for Life, and VA Healthcare. Should I get Medicare? Medicare Part B? Supplement?

Ans:

TRICARE For Life is Medicare-wraparound coverage for retirees and their family members who are eligible for Medicare Part A and Part B.

Information from a Tricare brochure and website:

  1. If you’re entitled to premium-free Medicare Part A, you must also have Medicare Part B to keep TRICARE, regardless of your age or place of residence (exceptions to this rule are discussed in the Delaying Medicare Part B Enrollment section). Once you have both Medicare Part A and Part B, you automatically receive TRICARE benefits under TRICARE For Life (TFL). Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage plans) and Part D (prescription drug coverage) isn’t required. Keeping your information up to date in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS) is key to ensuring effective, timely delivery of your TRICARE benefits.
  • TFL is an individual entitlement. Coverage is only for the Medicare and TRICARE-eligible beneficiary. For example, this means your new TFL coverage at age 65 doesn’t extend to family  members. Your spouse younger than age 65 would remain eligible for TRICARE Prime or TRICARE Select until they turn age 65 and become eligible for Medicare Part A and Part B.
  • You also don’t need Medicare Part B to remain enrolled in TRICARE Reserve Select (TRS) or TRICARE Retired Reserve (TRR). While you aren’t required to have Medicare Part B to remain eligible for TRS or TRR, you’re strongly encouraged to sign up for Part B when first eligible to avoid paying the monthly late- enrollment premium surcharge if you enroll at a later date. Enrollment in TRS or TRR doesn’t qualify individuals for a Medicare Part B Special Enrollment Period.

VETTIP – If you have questions on Medicare and TRICARE eligibility, call the Defense Manpower Data Center Support Office (DMDCS) at 1-800-538-9552

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Q2:

Do I need to have additional coverage other than Medicare if I’m registered, enrolled, and using VA healthcare exclusively for my health care plan? –  Jack, Bristol RI

Ans: 

Based on my research, the VA recommends veterans using VA health care have additional plans, even those veterans who receive 100% VA disability compensation.

Due to the numerous questions received from veterans on this topic, I have tried to understand and become more knowledgeable on a veteran’s options when he or she becomes eligible for Medicare and the veteran is using VA healthcare.  

For sure, I am not a professional on Medicare , however, if you are eligible for Medicare, and enrolled and using VA Healthcare, I recommend you have Medicare A and B, even if you have Tricare. Based on my knowledge, and firsthand knowledge, I suggest ALL veterans have a supplement plan with Medicare A and Medicare B. Moreover, you can sign up immediately when you are eligible. 

Why? 

Additional coverage for numerous scenarios. 

Example 1 – Hospitalization for a medical emergency and/or surgery

For example, you are a veteran and require hospitalization due to an emergency and or surgery. First, no guarantee that the VA hospital will have bed space to accept you in an emergency situation (learned this firsthand helping a veteran).  

Based on my firsthand experience helping a veteran, who only had basic Medicare and the plan did not cover out of network hospitalization. Subsequently, he has an estimated $5000 hospital bill and a $3000 ambulance bill because the VA and his basic Medicare did not cover the out of network hospitalization.

Example 2 – Dental Coverage

Another reason for choosing your basic Medicare and supplement plan is for dental coverage: unless you are 100% VA compensation and or service connected for your teeth, the VA does not cover dental, to include normal twice a year teeth cleaning.

When selecting Medicare A and Medicare B as a veteran you should compare several options and select the best one that provides for your non VA health coverage.

Example 3 – Veteran Residing at Veterans Home

Whereas, the State of Rhode Island formula for cost living at the veterans home allows deducting for medical coverage, and all veterans applying for and living at the veterans home must have Medicare is a reason to have a supplement plan. Moreover, although you are residing at the veterans home, you still can use Medicare and supplement insurance (note, more than likely, RI Veterans Home will not coordinate or transport the veteran to these appointments).

In this veteran’s opinion, and with the OPEN enrollment period for Medicare closing on December 7, 2021, if I resided at the Veterans Home, and seeing veterans having to wait weeks and sometimes months for an appointment at the VA, I would select the best Medicare B and supplement plan, which could include no cost for transportation to appointments outside of the VA.

A veteran at the home receives a deduction for medical coverage, so its minimum dollars cost in a formula that leaves him with a standard $150 a month plus 20% of his net income.  

In conclusion, the best Medicare A, Medicare Part B, and supplement plans are best for the needs of the individual. If a veteran is limited and doesn’t drive, he or she might like a plan that provides rides to the appointments. If a veteran needs help throughout the year in home needs (setting up WIFI, yard work, cooking, cleaning, assembling a furniture item. etc…), he or she might like a plan that provides 60 hours a year in home services. 

One other important factor in deciding a Medicare A and Medicare B plan is what is covered if you are traveling out of your home area of record. For instance, snowbirds going to Florida. Check to see if your plan is considered out of network in the area you will be staying.

Those veterans entitled to Tricare are required to enroll in Medicare A and Medicare B at age 65, otherwise Tricare For Life is not applicable. 

The Medicare Open Enrollment period occurs every year from October 15 through December 7, with coverage changes taking effect January 1. There are two main ways to get your Medicare coverage — Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage (Medicare-approved plans from private companies).

On November 21, 2022, Monday, 10:00 to 1:00 the Italian American War Veterans Service Officers are holding a workshop for veterans and their guest on understanding Medicare A and Medicare B plans when a veteran is enrolled and using VA health care. Take the time to attend, and enjoy a FREE pasta and meatball lunch being served for all attendees. 

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November 21, 2022, Monday, Perella’s Ristorante, 311 Metacom Ave, Warren RI. Italian American War Veterans of the US will be providing a  FREE pasta and meatballs lunch for all veterans and their guest who attend Medicare and Medicare Part B workshop.

November 24, 2022, Thursday, FREE Thanksgiving Dinner, Perella’s Ristorante, 311 Metacom Ave, Warren RI, Point of contact: ITAM, (401) 677-9838. The Italian American War veterans of US and Auxiliary will be hosting a FREE Thanksgiving Dinner for Veterans and their guest. The Italian American War Veterans of the US and Auxiliary will be providing FREE traditional Thanksgiving Dinner for veterans and their guest on Thanksgiving at Perella’s Ristorante, local veterans who are unable to travel to Perella’s*, and veterans residing at RI Veterans Home who wish to share Thanksgiving Dinner as a family with their veteran living at the veterans home. 

Perella’s Times Available: 1:00, 3:00, and 5:00pm. ITAM can accommodate entire RI Veteran Home veteran and their family at Perella’s for Thanksgiving dinner. RSVP no later than November 22, 2022.

  • Delivery Time to RI Veterans: 3:00pm to 5:00pm (Veteran and family must coordinate with home for a location to have meal)
  • Delivery Time to Veterans at RI Veterans Home: Call in orders from 2:00 to 4:00pm, 1-401-677-9838 (must pre-order, NO CHARGE to veteran at home, complete turkeys can be provided for a family wishing to have family dinner with their veteran at the home).

Perella’s is only open on Thanksgiving for the Thanksgiving dinners being prepared and served by ITAM and auxiliary for veterans and their guests. 


RSVP no later than November 22, 2022, (401) 677-9838.

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Thanksgiving Needs

Cranston Police Food Drive – all November – Cranston police are running a food drive to help local military veterans in need. The drive is in coordination with the Johnston-based veteran nonprofit Operation Stand Down. This drive lasts until the end of November. A donation box is located in the Cranston police station lobby at 5 Garfield Ave.

Operation Stand Down RI

RESOURCES & ongoing groups

Below are the groups the Providence Vet Center is currently offering. As this list changes, I will provide updates. Please send me any questions that you may have, thank you for your time!

Be aware of the holiday time and schedules may change:

***All Vet Center Groups require that the Veteran be enrolled with the Vet Center prior to attending. To check eligibility or for questions, please contact the Vet Center at (401) 739-0167 or reach out to our Veteran Outreach Program Specialist (VOPS) via email at Justyn.Charon@va.gov***

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Group (PTSD) – 2nd and 4th Tuesday of the month from 2:00 – 3:30 p.m. (Group is only active September through May)

Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) and Vietnam Veterans PTSD Group – 2nd and 4th  Wednesday of the month from 9:30 – 11:00 a.m.

Vietnam Veteran PTSD Group – 1st and 3rd Monday of the month from 10:30 – 12:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Art Expression Group – Every Thursday from 9:00 – 12:00 p.m.

Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF)/Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF)/Operation New Dawn (OND) Group – Every Wednesday from 11:00 – 12:00 p.m.

Stress Management – Every Thursday from 9:00 – 10:00 a.m.

Low Impact Walking Group – Every Tuesday from 9:00 – 10:00 a.m.

Guitar 4 Veterans – Every Wednesday from 7:00-8:30 p.m.

Monday Mindfulness Group – Every Monday from 10:00 – 11:00 a.m.

Yoga Group – Every Friday from 12:00 – 1:00 p.m.

Moral Injury Group – Every Friday from 10:00 – 11:00 a.m.

Modern Warrior Support Group – 1st and 3rd Monday of the month from 2:30 – 4:00 pm.

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Discounts for Veterans

Services

No Problem Plumbing and Heating LLC 15% military discount , ask for Ron Gaynor, (401) 568-6666. Veterans must provide proof of eligibility with a VA Card, VA ID Card, or RI State license with veteran identification.

Restaurants

Applebee’s – Military Discount. With more than 2,000 locations, Applebee’s is a family grill restaurant. Applebee’s gives 10% off for active duty and veteran. Last verified 07/31/2022.

Denny’s – Hartford Ave, Johnston offers 10% discount for veterans and active duty. Denny’s is a table service diner-style restaurant chain. Last verified 07/31/2022.

Outback Steakhouse – 10% Discount to active and veterans. Last verified 07/28/2021

99 Restaurant & Pub – The 99 Restaurant & Pub offers a 10% military discount to members of Veterans Advantage. Available at select locations only. Bring valid military ID

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Retailers

Advance Auto Parts – 10% for Active Duty, Veterans, and families. Last verified 07/28/2021

Bass Pro Shops –  Offers a 5% discount to active-duty military, reservists, and National Guard. Sign up and verify your status online or bring your military ID when you shop at your nearest Bass Pro store (source).

BJs Wholesale – Reduced membership fee. BJ’s offers all military personnel over 25% off their Membership. Last verified 07/28/2021

Lowes – Enroll in the Lowe’s Military Discount Program to activate your 10% discount – “Our way of saying Thank You” to our active duty, retired and military veterans and their spouses with a 10% discount on eligible items. Verification of your military status is fast and easy through our partner, ID.me.

ID.me is our trusted technology partner in helping to keep your personal information safe.

GameStop – is offering a 10% in-store military discount on all pre-owned products, collectibles, and select new products. Available to current and former military members who bring any valid proof of service or when they verify through ID.me

Home Depot – Offers a 10% off military discount on regularly priced merchandise for in-store purchases for active duty, retired military, and reservists at participating locations. Customers are required to show a valid government-issued military ID card to redeem this offer.

Kohls – 15% discount offers for active military, veterans, retirees, and their immediate family members a 15% discount on purchases made on Mondays, in store only. In order to receive the military discount, eligible customers must present proper identification along with any tender type.

Jiffy Lube – HONORING VETERANS ALL DAY EVERY DAY! – We didn’t want to wait for Veteran’s Day to express our appreciation and gratitude for your service. That’s why every Team Car Care owned and operated Jiffy Lube® service center is offering our BEST discount of 15% OFF as a “Thank You” to the men and women of our Armed Forces for their service to our country. *Disclaimer*- I.D. required. No coupon is required. Excludes batteries and brakes, alignment, and diagnostic services. Available only at 3 select locations listed below:

Tioque Ave, Coventry RI – Bald Hill Road, Warwick RI – Park Ave, Cranston RI

Michaels – offers a 15% off military discount on the entire in-store purchase including sale items for active duty, retired military, guard, reservists, veterans, and family members. How to get –

1.    Create an Account. Log in or create a Michaels Rewards account.

2.    Get Verified. Provide your military information to get verified instantly.

3.    Go Shopping! To use your discount online and in store, just sign into your account or provide your Michaels Rewards phone number at checkout.

O’Reilly Auto Parts – 10% discount on in store items for Active Duty, Veterans and families. Last verified 3/4/21.

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If you are a retailer and or a veteran aware of a business not listed above, please forward to:itamri4vets@gmail.com:  the business’s name, location, and military and veteran discount offered.

If you have an event, meeting, other pertinent veteran information, or email questions or help needed, contact the Italian American War Veteran Service Officer, John A Cianci, itamri4vets@gmail.com, ITAM Office 1-(401)677-9VET(9838)

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To read all columns in this series go to: https://rinewstoday.com/john-a-cianci/

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John A. Cianci is a Veteran Service Officer. Retired, U.S. Army MSgt., Persian Gulf War and Iraq War combat theater.

Cianci, a combat disabled Veteran, served in Desert Shield/Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom. His awards include Bronze Star, Combat Action Badge, Good Conduct, and others.

Cianci belongs to numerous veterans organizations – Italian American War Veterans, American Legion, Veterans of Foreign War, United Veterans Council of Rhode Island, and many more organizations. He is an active volunteer assisting veterans to navigate federal and state benefits they have earned. He is Department of Rhode Island Department Commander Italian American War Veterans and Veteran Service Officer.

He is a graduate of Roger Williams University (BS Finance), UCONN business school* (Entrepreneur Bootcamp for Veterans), Solar Energy International Residential, Commercial and Battery Based Photovoltaic Systems certificate programs, numerous certificates from the Department of Defense renewable energy programs, including graduate of the Solar Ready Vets Program.

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