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Let Congress know how important this Medicare program is

To The Daily Sun,

At the beginning of June 2016, the Senate Appropriations Committee voted 29-1 to cut a critical Medicare State Health Insurance Assistance Program called SHIP. The committee proposed that the Medicare SHIP Program lose all of its $52.1 million in funding, effectively eliminating the program.

I am writing to explain the benefits of the SHIP program to you and to ask that you contact your members of Congress to let them know the benefits of this program.

As a SHIP counselor, I am trained to provide free, in-depth, personalized counseling to seniors and people with disabilities who need unbiased help with the growing complexities of Medicare coverage. I have counseled people from all walks of life, all levels of formal education, and all socioeconomic statuses to understand Medicare therefor allowing them to make the best choices for themselves.

Additionally, SHIPs provide assistance with fraud and abuse issues, billing problems, appeal rights, and enrollment in low-income protection programs that pay the Part B and/or Part D premium. SHIPSs are allocated funding by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Administration for Community Living (ACL). Last year, more than 7 million Medicare beneficiaries received help from SHIPs nationally.

During 2015, Belknap County ServiceLink, a program of the Partnership for Public Health, helped nearly 1,000 people with their Medicare needs. During that year's Open Enrollment, we counseled 250 people who saved a total of $156,000 by understanding their options and comparing the different plans.

One counseling session from two years ago stands out to me. I went to a local senior center to educate people on the importance of reviewing their prescription drug plan during open enrollment and to offer my assistance. A woman there allowed me to review her coverage with her. In doing so, it showed that her current prescription drug plan was not covering one of her medications in the upcoming year. I assisted her in finding a plan that did and she switched to that plan, saving her $46,000.

SHIP programs are nationwide. In New Hampshire, they are located at the ServiceLink offices. Each county has at least one SHIP counselor. For those that have benefited by this program and for those that hope to in the future, please contact your Congressperson and let them know how important this program is to you, to seniors and to individuals with disabilities. You can find your contact person at the National Council on Aging website: under ACTION CENTER.

Louisa Simpson
Medicare Specialist, SHIP Counselor
ServiceLink Resource Center

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I can't believe a town like Meredith would allow this to happen

To The Daily Sun,

I was a vendor set up at the American Police Motorcycle Museum in Meredith during this year's Laconia Bike Week. On June 15, I was totally engulfed in this disgusting smell that drifted from next door and wouldn't leave me. The smell stayed in my nose, and the taste that it left in my throat lasted for several hours no matter what I drank or how much. After a few hours of this I finally asked a local that was walking through the area, "What is that disgusting smell that I can't seem to get away from?" He just smirked and said, "Oh, that's just the crematorium next door." I almost threw up right then and there, which really made this guy laugh.

I couldn't believe that the town of Meredith would allow this to happen. I also couldn't believe that the owner of the crematorium next door didn't have the common sense and concern enough for his neighbors and fellow man to raise the exhaust stack and have proper scrubbers in place to maintain the quality of life for those around him. There has to be some state or federal regulations governing the emissions of such businesses so that our health isn't compromised. If not, then how about the decency to just do the right thing?

As a former planning board member in my town and supervisor of building two spray booths with exhaust stacks for a previous business, I know that there are regulations in place to protect all parties concerned. I would expect the concerned town citizens and town officials to be vigilant in addressing this issue. I only experienced this event to this severity once, but did experience it a couple of other times to a lesser extent later in the week. Believe me, experiencing this once will leave a very lasting impression on you, and not a good one.

I hope that all parties concerned will do what is right and in the best interest to all of the people of Meredith and those, like myself, that do come there on a regular basis whether it be for fun or business, and take measures to regain and maintain a quality of life that is expected and deserved by all in the beautiful state of New Hampshire.

Thank you in advance for addressing this issue.

Don Westberg
Wagner Motorsports
Worcester, Mass.

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