MILFORD - Veterans of U.S. military service can get help in Pike County, untangling Medicare benefits. The Mission of the Pike County Veterans In-Reach Project (PVIP), coordinated by Alicia Bonadonna, provides one-on-one assistance through Pike County Area Agency on Aging.

Bonadonna spoke to the County Commissioners, May 3rd, about the effort.
She serves as Diakon Community Service’s Pike County APPRISE coordinator, offering individuals help to navigate the Medicare system and understand all available options.

“Last year I had an idea to do a Medicare program specifically for the veteran population in Pike County,” she said.”They’re a very unique group… It’s kind of an uphill battle because gentlemen and ladies who have been in combat or have served in the military don’t always set forward. It’s kind of a challenging thing but a rewarding thing as well.”

Many times, family members contact her on behalf of a veteran.
She stated she was motivated to do this as a way to honor her father, who served in World War II.

Bonadonna was able to obtain grant funding for the pilot program. Following the grant’s specifications, the funding lasts six months, and started in January 2017. She was laying the groundwork over the winter and since April has been meeting with veterans. So far she has spoken with 15 to 20 veterans, which she commented is a good start. She hopes to spread the word to other vets.

PVIP can provide services to veterans and their families and assist with:
• Medicare counseling,
• Prescription drug counseling and pharmacy assistance programs,
• Medicare savings programs,
• Questions about how Medicare works with VA prescription drug coverage, and
• Referrals to other programs and services.

As is stated in the program’s brochure, free and low cost programs that may be available to vets if they are receiving Medicare include:
• The Extra Help Program (LIS)- helps to provide assistance to Medicare beneficiaries with limited assets in income paying for prescription drug costs such as premiums, deductibles, copayments and coinsurance,
• Medicare Savings Programs (MSPs) - helps provide Medicare beneficiaries with limited assets and income assistance paying some Medicare costs, including Medicare Part B premiums, medical and hospital deductibles and coinsurance,
• PACE/PACENET - helps Pennsylvania Medicare beneficiaries over 65 who meet specific income requirements with help paying prescription drug costs and premiums,
• Manufacturer Discount Programs - assists Medicare beneficiaries with costs related to specific prescription medications.

Veterans may not need a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan if they receive their prescriptions through the Veterans Administration (VA). Vets who do have a Part D prescription drug plan, however, may be eligible for savings on prescription brand and generic medications.

She stated that a lot of people don’t realize that they can have both a VA drug plan and a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan. VA benefits and Medicare benefits work together only on certain programs and services.

Pike County Commissioner Richard Caridi suggested that she contact Pierce Bunce, Pike County Veterans Affairs Coordinator, about making a presentation at the weekly veterans’ meeting at the County Administration building. Bunce meets with a group of veterans on Wednesdays at 1 p.m. in the Commissioners’ meeting room; all vets are welcome.

She has been able to meet with veterans at scheduled times, at Senator Lisa Baker’s field office at the lower level of the Lake Wallenpaupack Visitors Center, and at the Pike County Public Library.

Contact the PVIP to find out more and to see how the program can help. Call Ms. Bonadonna at 570-775-5550 ext. 1313. She is available at the Aging Office (Pike County Senior Center) at 150 Pike County Boulevard in Lords Valley.

The APPRISE program is managed by Diakon Community Services under a contract with Pike County Area Agency on Aging.

Poultry concern

• Poultry farmers and anyone with chickens, should be aware of a new avian influenza in the eastern U.S., that is spread by migrating ducks and geese, David Messersmith, Penn State Extension, reported. The disease is highly contagious for poultry, but does not harm humans.

Pennsylvania is the fourth largest egg-producing state in the nation, so there is a big concern about it. Messersmith advised that anyone with a “backyard flock” should be aware, and if anyone has sick birds, contact Penn State Extension for information.

The disease does not affect migratory fowl but they do carry it.

Visit online at http://extension.psu.edu/animals/poultry/topics/health-and-diseases/avian-influenza.

Penn State Extension in Pike County is offering a variety of seminars and courses, both locally and through online webinars. A course entitled Strong Women/Growing Stronger is offered twice a week at the County Administration Building, May 9- August 1. Men are welcome as well. Nutrition, diet and health are covered.
For more information on Penn State Extension programs call the Pike County office at 570-296-3400.

Matamoras Senior Center

• Commissioners approved creating a part-time Site Manager I position for the new Senior Center location in Matamoras, effective April 25. The position is being filled by Janice Palma. The Senior Center, which had been meeting at the library in Milford, has relocated to the Matamoras Fire Department, 506 Avenue Q (from Milford, on Route 6/209 take a right onto 6th Street to Avenue Q). The center is open Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. Call the Office of Aging for hours and other information at 570-775-5550.

Courthouse project

• A change order was approved for the Courthouse Annex project. An additional $8,641.37 by the contractor, Mar-Paul, for additional structural steel and reworking steel.

School tennis courts

• A resolution was passed in support of a $250,000 state DCED grant to benefit the Delaware Valley School District. The funds are requested to resurface four existing tennis courts at the High School and to construct two new courts at the Dingman-Delaware Middle School. All of the courts are available for public use.

Pike County Commissioners meet at the Administration Building, 506 Broad St., Milford on the first and third Wednesday at 9 a.m.