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New York Times - California News - November 18, 2014 - 2:27pm
Get recommendations from New York Times reporters and editors, highlighting great stories from around the web. Today, great reads from Peter Eavis, Graham Bowley and others.

Betty Berry: Medicare vs. employer health plans

Ventura County Star Top Stories - November 18, 2014 - 2:04pm

Q: I recently applied for my Medicare benefits and soon after received a form to complete asking for information about employer’s health plans that I might be entitled to. Why would Medicare need such information?

Click here for more from Betty Berry.

A: Medicare needs to know about other health care coverage in order to establish your benefits file and to determine whether Medicare will be your primary coverage.

Usually when a person becomes eligible, Medicare serves as the primary health care payer. However, some people are entitled to other health care insurance, which preempts Medicare as the primary health care provider and shifts Medicare’s role to that of secondary payer.

The questionnaire you received asks if you have health care coverage under an employer’s health plan either through your or your spouse’s current employment. This initial enrollment questionnaire provides information for the establishment of your Medicare benefit file. Medicare needs to determine if they will be the primary or secondary payer for your health care costs. Without this information Medicare would not be able to pay your claims in a timely manner and you could possibly be billed by your providers for services rendered.

If your or your spouse’s employer coverage is through an HMO you must also provide this information to that HMO. They will then coordinate payments between Medicare and the employer plan.

If you are 65 or older and continue to work or have a spouse who works, federal law protects you from discrimination in employer health care coverage. An employer of 20 or more employees who offers health care benefits must offer you and your spouse the same health care benefits under the same conditions as those offered to other employees.

You have the choice of accepting or rejecting the plan offered by your or your spouse’s employer. If you accept the plan it will be your primary health care coverage as long as you or your spouse continues that employment. Medicare, if you decide to enroll, would then become your secondary insurance and could assist with payment of Medicare-covered services that are not covered under the employer plan.

If you decide to reject the employer’s plan then Medicare will be your primary plan.

It is very important that you let your health care providers know what plan is providing your primary coverage. If it is an employer’s plan providers of care will need the name and address of the employer’s plan and policy number. Providers should be instructed to bill that plan first for any services received.

As soon as you are no longer covered by an employer’s plan it is important that you enroll in Medicare Part B (Medical Coverage), if you have not previously done so. You should also notify the insurance carrier or HMO responsible for your Medicare claims that you are no longer covered by an employer’s plan and that Medicare will now be the primary payer. Make sure they know the effective date of this change.

Last, but not least, inform your health care providers of your change in primary coverage so they can direct their claims to the proper insurer for payment.

HAPPENINGS:

Nov. 19: “Senior Safety During the Holidays” seminar, 1:30-3 p.m. at Westlake Village Civic Center, 31200 E. Oak Crest Drive in Westlake Village.

Dec. 17: “Will You Pass Your Next Driving Test” seminar, 1:30-3 p.m. at Simi Valley Senior Center, 3900 Avenida Simi in Simi Valley. For reservations call 583-6363.

MEDICARE ONE-STOP-SHOPS:

Nov. 19: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Camarillo Health Care District, 3639 E. Las Posas Road in Camarillo.

Nov. 20: 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Area Agency on Aging Offices, 646 County Square Drive in Ventura.

Nov. 21: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Goebel Adult Community Center, 1385 E. Janss Road in Thousand Oaks.

Betty Berry is a senior advocate for Senior Concerns. The advocates are located at the Goebel Adult Community Center, 1385 E. Janss Road in Thousand Oaks, CA 91362 or call 495-6250 or e-mail betty@seniorconcerns.org (please include your telephone number.) You are invited to submit questions on senior issues.

Sustainable Ventura: Water Summit

Ventura County Star Top Stories - November 18, 2014 - 1:56pm

Sustainable Ventura News' Maryann Ridini Spencer talks with Assemblymember Das Williams (D-Carpinteria), Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (California State Senate, 19th District), Ventura Mayor Cheryl Heitmann, Henry Gonzales (Commissioner of Agriculture, Ventura County), Shana Epstein (GM, Ventura Water) and Mark Jackson (Meteorologist, NOAA National Weather Service) about the current California drought and water crisis at the October 24, 2014 Summit on Water Conservation at Ventura City Hall.

Simply Delicious: Applesauce Bars

Ventura County Star Top Stories - November 18, 2014 - 1:38pm

This “Applesauce Bars” recipe is a family favorite comfort food at holiday time (or any time!).  The cake texture combined with the delicious taste of apples, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice and hint of lemon combined with the crunchy texture of raw walnuts and fresh, crisp apple chunks is divine!  Enjoy as a breakfast bread, a snack or dessert!

Applesauce Bars

Serves: 12

Ingredients

  • 2 c. & 2T flour organic whole wheat flour
  • 1 c. organic sugar
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 T. ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • ½ tsp. ground cloves
  • 2 c. applesauce (unsweetened)
  • 1 c. apples, peeled and diced
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp. lemon extract
  • ¾ c. coconut oil
  • ⅓ c. walnuts, chopped

Instructions
1. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. Grease 13 x 9 x 2 pan with coconut oil and flour with the 2 T. of flour. Shake off extra flour.
3. In a large bowl, add 2 c. flour, sugar, salt, soda, cinnamon, pumpkin spice, and cloves.
4. In another bowl, with an electric mixer, beat melted coconut oil, applesauce, eggs, and lemon extract.
5. Add diced apple and walnuts to the wet mixture. Fold into the mixture with a wooden spoon or spatula.
6. Make a well in the middle of the dry flour mixture and pour wet applesauce mixture in the middle.
7. Mix batter (it will be thick) with the electric mixer until just combined (do not over mix).
8. Pour mixture into the baking pan. Bake 25-30 minutes. Insert a toothpick to check if bars are done. (Toothpick will come out clean but moist).
9. Let bars cool in the pan for 15-20 minutes, then cut into squares.
10. Serve plain and/or with a bit of honey, a dollop of whip cream or vanilla bean ice cream. YUM!

©2013 – Maryann Ridini Spencer, http://SimplyDeliciousLiving.com
Maryann Ridini Spencer hosts the award-winning series, “Simply Delicious Living with Maryann®” seen on PBS Television and in First Run TV Syndication. Maryann produces video stories about environmentally friendly and healthy living in Ventura County. Visit her popular blog and her Ventura County Star lifesyle columns
and VC Style.

Authorities ID motorcyclist killed in crash

Ventura County Star Top Stories - November 18, 2014 - 12:33pm

Authorities Tuesday identified a motorcyclist killed in a Thousand Oaks crash.

The Ventura County Sheriff’s Office responded about 3:50 a.m. to a motorcyclist down in a ditch, officials said.

Daniel Sherwood, 28, of Moorpark, was declared dead at the scene.

The roadway near the crash was closed both ways at Moorpark Road and Calle Contento and was expected to remain closed until 8 a.m., officials said.

House Democrats Re-Elect Pelosi as Leader

Wall Street Journal U.S. News - November 18, 2014 - 12:28pm
House Democrats re-elected Nancy Pelosi as their leader, despite some discontent among their ranks over losses in the election earlier this month.

Perello's lead grows in Oxnard council race

Ventura County Star Top Stories - November 18, 2014 - 12:26pm

Incumbent Bert Perello has extended his lead in the election for a second seat on the Oxnard City Council, results released Tuesday show.

(Visit vcstar.com/elections for more election coverage or find the Elections section in our smartphone and iPad apps.)

Perello was ahead of challenger Steve Huber by 43 votes, according to the Ventura County Elections Division. Perello had 6,495 votes, or about 15.5 percent of the total, while Huber had 6,452 votes, about 15.4 percent.

The previous update, on Friday, had Perello leading by 31 votes.

This story will be updated.

House Panel Considers Privatizing FAA's Air Traffic Control

Wall Street Journal U.S. News - November 18, 2014 - 12:09pm
Opening what promises to be a spirited debate, members of the House Transportation Committee signaled a renewed willingness to consider privatizing the nation’s air-traffic control system.

Boehner Says GOP Mulling Options on Obama Immigration Action

Wall Street Journal U.S. News - November 18, 2014 - 11:59am
House Speaker John Boehner said Tuesday that GOP leaders are considering a range of options to respond to President Obama’s expected use of executive actions to overhaul U.S. immigration rules.

Airline hits passenger with $1,200 Wi-Fi bill

Ventura County Star Top Stories - November 18, 2014 - 11:18am

That’s some golden Wi-Fi.

A man flying from London to Singapore who bought a $29 Wi-Fi package was shocked to receive a $1,200 Internet bill upon landing, the Washington Post reports.

“You know that epic feeling when your flight ends and you finally get to your destination?” wrote Jeremy Gutsche, a CEO of Canadian technology site Trend Hunter, on his blog. “Now imagine taking those first steps off the plane, syncing your phone, and getting a $1,200 bill for airplane internet use.”

Gutsche tweeted a copy of the bill, which was for $28.99 for 30 MB of Internet access, plus $1,142.47 in overage fees.

 

My $1200 @singaporeair internet bill was just featured in @DailyMailUK @nypost & @Telegraph http://t.co/eaa2EiSTNZ pic.twitter.com/Do3PTSBRPt

— Jeremy Gutsche (@jeremygutsche) November 14, 2014

 

Gutsche said on his blog that he visited about 150 pages. He estimated that a Powerpoint file he uploaded cost about $100.

"I hope my team liked it," he wrote.

Gavin Stern is a national digital producer for the Scripps National Desk. Follow him on twitter at @GavinStern or email him at gavin.stern@scripps.com.

2 injured after vacuum truck explodes

Ventura County Star Top Stories - November 18, 2014 - 11:17am

Approximately a 1,000 gallons of an unknown product have been spilled after the rear of a vacuum truck exploded Tuesday morning near Santa Paula and two injuries were reported, officials said.

The Ventura County Fire Department along with other agencies responded about 3:45 a.m. near the 800 block of Mission Rock Road, officials said.

Two people were reported with injuries and at least one was taken to Ventura County Medical Center with unknown injuries, officials said.

An exclusion zone had been setup by 5 a.m. and workers from Ventura city and county, as well as  hazardous material crews, and Oxnard and Santa Paula fire departments were on scene assisting with the situation, officials said.

No road closures were known about or how large the exclusion zone was but the area should be avoided, officials said.

It was unknown what the contents of the spilled were as of 6 a.m. but the initial report from the driver said it was possibly sewage, officials said.  

The cause of the explosion was under investigation, officials said. As of 5 a.m. three engines, three hazmat units, one ambulance and additional units were on scene.

In the Hippie Stronghold of Ojai, Calif., a New Design Store for Modern Bohemians

New York Times - California News - November 18, 2014 - 11:00am
In the Field brings emerging designers and contemporary furniture to the picturesque hamlet 90 miles north of L.A.

Books of The Times: ‘Penelope Fitzgerald: A Life,’ a Biography by Hermione Lee

NY Times Books - November 18, 2014 - 10:34am
Hermione Lee’s biography “Penelope Fitzgerald: A Life” paints Fitzgerald, who died in 2000, as a complicated human being who battled through difficult times to begin her career as an author when she was in her late 50s.






New York's Jewish Community Condemns Synagogue Attack

Wall Street Journal U.S. News - November 18, 2014 - 10:23am
The attack inside a Jerusalem synagogue, which left four rabbis dead, including three U.S.-Israeli citizens, drew widespread condemnation from New York Jewish leaders who called for an end to violence and caused area synagogues to tighten security.

Oxford names 'Vape' word of the year

Ventura County Star Top Stories - November 18, 2014 - 10:04am

It's that time of year again: when Oxford Dictionaries synthesizes a year's worth of words and crowns one the champion. This year's Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year is ... vape. 

The word is both a noun and a verb. As a noun, it refers to the electronic device — usually an e-cigarette — used to vaporize a substance for inhalation. As a verb, it means to inhale and exhale the vaporized substance produced by the e-cigarette. (Videos via YouTube / PDX1K, YouTube / Abby Vapes)

Oxford Dictionaries' editorial team says it chose "vape" because of the word's growing popularity over the past year and a half. Media interest in London's "The Vape Lab" — the first U.K. e-cigarette coffee shop — and controversy surrounding the health and safety of vaping have driven the word into the mainstream. 

As it turns out, though, the word has been around since the 1980s. Oxford describes an article written in 1983 where the author, Rob Stepney, described an e-cigarette. He even went on to coin the term "vaping!" 

As media outlets, health organizations and scientific studies continue to debate the benefits and pitfalls of e-cigarettes, "vape" will likely continue its popular streak well into the coming year. (Videos via BBC, CNN)

Oxford shared a shortlist of words in the running for Word of the Year, including the affectionate term "bae," the tech term "contactless," referring to wireless payments and "budtender," which is essentially a marijuana bartender. You can learn more about "vape," and check out the rest of the shortlist on Oxford's OxfordWords blog

This video includes an image from Getty Images.

President Orders Review of U.S. Hostage Policies

Wall Street Journal U.S. News - November 18, 2014 - 10:04am
The Obama administration is undertaking a review of how it handles cases of U.S. citizens held captive by extremists abroad, according to a letter from a top Pentagon official made public Monday.

Hueneme council hears beach update

Ventura County Star - Local News - November 18, 2014 - 10:02am

With the Port Hueneme beaches growing rapidly, the city council is back to making plans to attract people to the beach.

Fields of 300 feet to 400 feet of sand are now before the water's edge. A month ago, waves were spilling onto the roadways during high tides.

At its regular meeting Monday night, with Mayor Jon Sharkey absent, Mayor Pro Tem Norman Griffaw commended the city staff for its work on the sand issue.

Public Works Director Chris Theisen asked the council to authorize an additional $140,298 to have additional wooden support poles, or pilings, made for the pier and treated for use in the ocean. He said it will take some time to prepare the specially crafted pilings, which means the pier will not open until early next year.

Theisen said change orders in the pier contract have cut about $125,000 from the $624,000 contract, so the additional cost for pilings shouldn't have much of an effect.

Theisen said about half of the 2 million cubic yards of sand is already in place. Now the city is grappling with what to do about rocks that were placed to protect city structures when waves stripped sand from the beach.

Community Development Director Greg Brown said one of the stipulations with the California Coastal Commission, which approved the rock walls in July, was that stairways be made through the rocks. But with sand in place, only the very tops of some of the rocks are sticking out. Brown said it would be fruitless to clear away that sand to create a stairway now, so he will ask the commission for a change in terms.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is overseeing the dredging of sand from a sand trap near the mouth of the Channel Islands Harbor. Construction of the deep-water Port of Hueneme, which is used jointly by the Navy and the Oxnard Harbor District, interrupts the natural flow of sand along the coast.

Because of congressional budget cuts, the money for the every-other-year dredging was reduced, as was the amount of sand pumped from the trap, which eventually left Hueneme beach denuded of sand.

With its sandy beach back in place, Deputy City Manager Carmen Nichols outlined some of the city's plans to provide more beachside events. About 20,000 people attended the Toni Young Hueneme Beach Festival last year, Nichols said in a report to the council.

She said the city is considering making some of the events associated with the beach festival stand-alone occasions, such as the car show, which wasn't part of last year's beach festival.

In other action, the council unanimously agreed to declare a Level 2 Water Supply Shortage mandating various water restrictions, including repairing any leaks in the home and banning the use of ornamental outdoor water fountains.

Hueneme council hears beach update

Ventura County Star Top Stories - November 18, 2014 - 10:02am

With the Port Hueneme beaches growing rapidly, the city council is back to making plans to attract people to the beach.

Fields of 300 feet to 400 feet of sand are now before the water's edge. A month ago, waves were spilling onto the roadways during high tides.

At its regular meeting Monday night, with Mayor Jon Sharkey absent, Mayor Pro Tem Norman Griffaw commended the city staff for its work on the sand issue.

Public Works Director Chris Theisen asked the council to authorize an additional $140,298 to have additional wooden support poles, or pilings, made for the pier and treated for use in the ocean. He said it will take some time to prepare the specially crafted pilings, which means the pier will not open until early next year.

Theisen said change orders in the pier contract have cut about $125,000 from the $624,000 contract, so the additional cost for pilings shouldn't have much of an effect.

Theisen said about half of the 2 million cubic yards of sand is already in place. Now the city is grappling with what to do about rocks that were placed to protect city structures when waves stripped sand from the beach.

Community Development Director Greg Brown said one of the stipulations with the California Coastal Commission, which approved the rock walls in July, was that stairways be made through the rocks. But with sand in place, only the very tops of some of the rocks are sticking out. Brown said it would be fruitless to clear away that sand to create a stairway now, so he will ask the commission for a change in terms.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is overseeing the dredging of sand from a sand trap near the mouth of the Channel Islands Harbor. Construction of the deep-water Port of Hueneme, which is used jointly by the Navy and the Oxnard Harbor District, interrupts the natural flow of sand along the coast.

Because of congressional budget cuts, the money for the every-other-year dredging was reduced, as was the amount of sand pumped from the trap, which eventually left Hueneme beach denuded of sand.

With its sandy beach back in place, Deputy City Manager Carmen Nichols outlined some of the city's plans to provide more beachside events. About 20,000 people attended the Toni Young Hueneme Beach Festival last year, Nichols said in a report to the council.

She said the city is considering making some of the events associated with the beach festival stand-alone occasions, such as the car show, which wasn't part of last year's beach festival.

In other action, the council unanimously agreed to declare a Level 2 Water Supply Shortage mandating various water restrictions, including repairing any leaks in the home and banning the use of ornamental outdoor water fountains.

U.S. Home-Builder Confidence Rose in November

Wall Street Journal U.S. News - November 18, 2014 - 9:59am
A gauge of home-builder sentiment climbed in November, a hopeful signal for the U.S. housing recovery as it struggles to find its footing.

The War & Money Project

Ventura County Star Top Stories - November 18, 2014 - 9:41am

The War & Money Project offers a wide-ranging introduction to our world in arms and lets viewers explore it in their own unique way.

Providing a half-hour of content along with explainers for key topics, Newsy's latest venture in new media storytelling examines the growth of America's military budget, how U.S. defense spending compares worldwide and how wasteful spending can inflate an already huge budget at the Pentagon.

Where to begin —and how to watch — is up to you. The experience is best suited for laptops and desktops.

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