Understanding Medicare is not a walk in the park. It’s more like crawling through a dark cave: Disorienting and challenging. And every year during Medicare Open Enrollment from Oct. 15 through Dec. 7, you get to explore that cave again!

Why? Medicare health and drug plans make changes each year — such as cost, coverage, and what providers and pharmacies are in their networks. They can also make changes to the plan’s “formulary” (list of covered drugs). You will receive information from your current Medicare plans such as the “Evidence of Coverage” (EOC) and “Annual Notice of Change” (ANOC) describing those changes.

Review these statements carefully. Particularly look at the plan’s “formulary” to make sure your prescriptions are still covered. If you’re satisfied, you don’t need to do anything. But if you aren’t happy with the changes to your current plan and would like to know what other options are available, there are several trusted resources to help you.

Online you can visit Medicare.gov/plan-compare to compare and shop for health and drug plans and the Oregon’s Senior Health Insurance Benefits Assistance (SHIBA) website healthcare.oregon.gov/shiba that includes Oregon’s Medicare 2020 Guide and a list of available plans in your county.

But if you are like me, you may want to talk to someone who can help you navigate through all the choices and answer your questions. For Gilliam, Sherman, Wasco and Hood River counties, you can call the local SHIBA program at 541-288-8341 to make an appointment with a trained unbiased SHIBA volunteer.

While the SHIBA program offers Medicare counseling services, help is also available through licensed health insurance agents. If you want to work with a local agent who has gone through a state certification process, the Oregon Health Insurance Marketplace has a Medicare agent locator tool available on its website, healthcare.oregon.gov/Pages/find-help.aspx. Be sure to select “Medicare Agent” when you search.

This is also the week for “Through the Eyes of an Elder,” a monthly feature in Columbia Gorge News, where you can read about the dedicated volunteers who make the SHIBA program possible. It is on page A13 of this edition.

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“The election is coming! The election is coming!” But you already know that and are probably looking forward to shouting “The election is over! The election is over!”

But it is our responsibility to take elections seriously because our future, in ways large and small, will be affected by the decisions we make at the ballot box.

This year you have until Tuesday, Oct. 13, to register to vote, with the ballots going out on Oct. 14. You can update or change your registration online at OregonVotes.gov using the MyVote button or visit your county’s website where you can download a paper registration form. And you can always call your county’s election department and they will mail a registration form to you. Regardless, the registration must be received in the election’s office by Oct. 13 if it’s a NEW registration.

Lisa Gambee, Wasco County clerk, told me there is plenty of “noise” at the national level that doesn’t apply to Oregon.

Oregon’s Vote By Mail will work the same as it has for more than 20 years! In Wasco County if you have any concerns or just want to confirm your registration, you can call the Wasco County Clerk’s office at 541-506-2530 and they can check it on the spot.

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The singer dubbed the “King of Calypso” and known for his recording of “The Banana Boat Song,” with its signature lyric “Day-O,” was Harry Belafonte. I received correct answers from Cheri Brent, Gwen Yanda, John McEueun, Lana Tepfer, Cathy Orfall, Sandra Fritz, Dave Lutgens, Barbara Cadwell, Steven Woolpert, Kim Birge, Joan Silver, Rhonda Spies and this week’s winners of a quilt raffle ticket each are Betsy Ayers and Deloris Schrader, who both saw Harry Belafonte in concert. And last week, I missed Nicole Hughes.

Maureen McCormick, who played the oldest Brady daughter Marcia Brady, appeared in a TV commercial with “Poppin’ Fresh” when she was 6 years old, where they sang “Nothin’ says lovin’ like something from the oven.” For this week’s “Remember When” question, what company, acquired by General Mills in 2001, “says it best”? Email your answer to mcseniorcenter@gmail.com, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or send it with a recording of one of the company’s televised baking contests from the 1950s.

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Well, it’s been another week, wondering what this new ache means? Until we meet again, always take the high road. It has a better view.

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“In times like these, it’s helpful to remember that there have always been times like these.” — Paul Harvey

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The Dalles Meals-on-Wheels daily menus. If you would like to pick up a meal at noon, call 541-298-8333 before 10:30 a.m.

Menu

Thursday (8): Biscuits and Gravy with Scrambled Eggs

Friday (9): Ham

Monday (12): Cheeseburger Pie

Tuesday (13): Turkey and Gravy

Wednesday (14): Pork Chops

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