New Medicare cards offer greater protection to more than 57.7 million Americans

New cards will no longer contain Social Security numbers, to combat fraud and illegal use

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is readying a fraud prevention initiative that removes Social Security numbers from Medicare cards to help combat identity theft, and safeguard taxpayer dollars. The new cards will use a unique, randomly-assigned number called a Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI), to replace the Social Security-based Health Insurance Claim Number (HICN) currently used on the Medicare card. CMS will begin mailing new cards in April 2018 and will meet the congressional deadline for replacing all Medicare cards by April 2019. Today, CMS kicks-off a multi-faceted outreach campaign to help providers get ready for the new MBI.

“We’re taking this step to protect our seniors from fraudulent use of Social Security numbers which can lead to identity theft and illegal use of Medicare benefits,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma. “We want to be sure that Medicare beneficiaries and healthcare providers know about these changes well in advance and have the information they need to make a seamless transition.”

Providers and beneficiaries will both be able to use secure look up tools that will support quick access to MBIs when they need them. There will also be a 21-month transition period where providers will be able to use either the MBI or the HICN further easing the transition

CMS testified on Tuesday, May 23rd before the U.S. House Committee on Ways & Means Subcommittee on Social Security and U.S. House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform Subcommittee on Information Technology, addressing CMS’s comprehensive plan for the removal of Social Security numbers and transition to MBIs.

Personal identity theft affects a large and growing number of seniors. People age 65 or older are increasingly the victims of this type of crime. Incidents among seniors increased to 2.6 million from 2.1 million between 2012 and 2014, according to the most current statistics from the Department of Justice. Identity theft can take not only an emotional toll on those who experience it, but also a financial one: two-thirds of all identity theft victims reported a direct financial loss. It can also disrupt lives, damage credit ratings and result in inaccuracies in medical records and costly false claims.

Work on this important initiative began many years ago, and was accelerated following passage of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA). CMS will assign all Medicare beneficiaries a new, unique MBI number which will contain a combination of numbers and uppercase letters. Beneficiaries will be instructed to safely and securely destroy their current Medicare cards and keep the new MBI confidential. Issuance of the new MBI will not change the benefits a Medicare beneficiary receives.

CMS is committed to a successful transition to the MBI for people with Medicare and for the health care provider community. CMS has a website dedicated to the Social Security Removal Initiative (SSNRI) where providers can find the latest information and sign-up for newsletters. CMS is also planning regular calls as a way to share updates and answer provider questions before and after new cards are mailed beginning in April 2018.

For more information, please visit: https://www.cms.gov/medicare/ssnri/index.html

Livingston Memorial Visiting Nurse Association serving the community

Dr. Lanyard K. Dial, President awarded Champion in Underserved Care.

by Lori Harasta

The focus of this year’s Pacific Coast Business Times’ Champions in Health Care was on aging and elder care. Among those recognized for excellence was Dr. Lanyard Dial, President/CEO and Medical Director for Livingston Memorial Visiting Nurse Association, who was awarded Champion in Underserved Care.

Livingston is a critical safety net in Ventura County, serving 90% of the underinsured and indigent patients needing quality home health, compassionate hospice care, and essential personal care. It is a vital part of Livingston’s mission to ensure that everyone receives care, regardless of their financial situation. During 2016 Livingston provided subsidized care to 636 patients at a cost of $750,777.

In 2017, Livingston expects to deliver subsidized care, services and programs to 300 unduplicated seniors through Home Health, Hospice programs and Care Giver programs. An estimated total of 2,600 seniors will be served.

Since 2014, Livingston has provided nurses for a program serving the underserved called COPD Access to Community Health (CATCH) Program. In its last few months of funding, CATCH is a free-of-charge program designed to improve health outcomes for people with respiratory disease. As a result of the program, according to Ventura County Health Care Agency data, there has been a 36% reduction in COPD-related emergency room visits over baseline.

In addition to these programs, Livingston is partnering with Ventura County Emergency Medical Services (EMS) in a program intended to prevent unnecessary transport of hospice patients to a hospital emergency room; instead treating them in their homes, according to their wishes. Livingston has participated by training first responders to assess patients, talk with family members, and determine whether the patient needs a hospital visit or if the emergency can be managed in the comfort of one’s home. This has reduced the rates of ambulance transports from 80% to just 36% of hospice patients (August 1, 2015 to September 30, 2016).

These are just a few ways Livingston, under the leadership of Dr. Dial, has been serving the underserved in Ventura County for the past 31 years. This year, Livingston celebrates 70 years of service in Ventura County.

As part of their services, they host free monthly education classes throughout the county which include the following in Ventura:

Adult Bereavement Support Group Wednesdays, August 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30, from 6:30-8:00 pm. These groups are open to individuals who have experienced loss and are free of charge.

Newly Bereaved Support Group Thursday, August 10th from 6-7:30 PM. This monthly group is designed for adults who have recently experienced the loss of a loved one and is free. These groups meet every 2nd Thursday of each month.

Diabetes Classes Tuesday, August 1st from 1-2:30pm. These meetings are held on 1st Tuesday of each month. General information is provided about Type 2 Diabetes including prediabetes, with emphasis on meal planning, medication, exercise, blood sugar monitoring, and new developments in diabetes.

Joint Replacement Classes Thursday, August 3rd from 1:00-2:00pm. You will learn what to expect before, during and after knee or hip replacement surgery and how to be an active participant in your care. These meetings are 1st Thursday of each month.

Monday, August 14th for both English and Spanish speaking. English 4:00-5:00 pm and Spanish 5:30-6:30 pm. You will learn what to expect before, during and after knee or hip replacement surgery and how to be an active participant in your care.

All classes at Livingston Memorial Visiting Nurse Association office, 1996 Eastman Ave., Suite 109. Call 642-0239 for more information.

FOTM Artist Spotlight on Porfirio Gutierrez

Focus on the Masters is pleased to shine the Artist Spotlight on Porfirio Gutierrez, an extraordinary weaver who combines ancient Zapotec traditions with a modern sensibility.Growing up in Teotitlan del Valle in Oaxaca, Mexico, he was immersed in the ancient art of weaving. Using natural dyes and employing traditional designs, he and his family, it can be said, are making certain that the artistic and spiritual values of his ancestors continue to be known and admired around the world. Through August, he is featured as a Guest Studio Artist at the Carnegie Museum in Oxnard.

Make your reservation today! www.FocusOnTheMasters.com or 653.2501. $10 for the general public, $5 for students and seniors, and free to Focus on the Masters Members. Not a member? Sign up today at www.FocusOnTheMasters.com.

AfterGLOW Fundraising Event: Immediately following the program join us for an AfterGLOW, a celebratory dinner at the Ventura home of Terry Willison immediately following the program. The AfterGLOW is $25 for FOTM members, $35 for non-members. Paid reservations are required prior to July 25. For RSVP & tickets visit www.FocusOnTheMasters.com or call 653-2501.

Top notch happy hour at Rhumb Line

Just a few of the wonderful Happy Hour selections at Rhumb Line.

by Jennifer Tipton

A Rhumb Line is the course of a ship that keeps a constant compass direction, good name for a restaurant that delivers consistently great food and service!

Also called “The Sunset Restaurant”, Rhumb Line is located where the old Scotch and Sirloin used to be in the Ventura Harbor. If you haven’t lived in Ventura for long, you probably have no idea where this is – 1510 Anchors Way Drive. With plenty of parking, the location provides beautiful views of the harbor just about anywhere you sit, there are indoor bistro type tables, a more formal dining area, bar seating that faces the harbor and a dog friendly outdoor patio also overlooking the harbor.

Everyone knows the best way to advertise (only second to running an ad in the Ventura Breeze) is word of mouth, so when a friend shared his experience at Rhumb Line, we all went to see for ourselves and what we found was indeed notable!

A Happy Hour is about the “tapas” or “small plates”, the adult beverages and great company, Rhumb Line delivered just that with the beauty of the boats and water as an added bonus.

The menu includes items you may not find anywhere else such as Blackened Ahi Sliders, Beef Sliders with bacon and blue cheese, a variety of Flatbread Pizzas and Oysters. These range from $5 to $10 each. The adult beverages selection offers the usual well drinks, beers and house wine for $5 and specialty cocktails such as Fresh Margaritas and one called a Rubedo (that sounded pretty tasty) for only $8 each.

The clever way to do happy hour is with a group so that each can choose a different selection and then share to taste a variety of tapas. We shared the Baby Back Riblets with a Szechuan glaze, the Ahi Poke served on large fried wontons with a sauce that again was delectable, the Shrimp/Chicken Quesadillas with pepper jack cheese, spinach and Pico de Gallo, Fried Calamari with a lemon aioli, Shrimp Bruschetta Bites with an aged balsamic glaze and the Lamb Sliders with arugula, tomato jam and goat cheese served with shoestring fries! The portions were not small, the flavors were fabulous and not one of us could choose a favorite, two of us even said, “wow, that calamari was good, and I don’t even like calamari!”

Service was good although we were missing a place setting and waited on a glass of water, but our plates were replaced with fresh ones for each dish which I thought was a nice touch and our server was very personable and kind.

A big shout out to Tommy Alizotis who we had a chance to meet, he is one of the 3 new owners that took over Rhumb Line about a year ago and is also the General Manager and Kitchen Manager – very impressive!

Rhumb Line’s Happy Hour is open every day from 3-7pm with all these tempting tapas and refreshing beverages, but bring your own great company (although the staff is very friendly). You could even invite me to join you.

The two met when they both worked for Shell Oil

Norman and Joan George with their senior 14 year old dog Nellie. Photo by Michael Gordon

by Jennifer Tipton

Norman and Joan George are a dynamic Ventura senior couple, in fact, they are my neighbors. Not a day goes by that I don’t notice their car is in the driveway, and then it’s gone, and then it’s back, and then it’s gone …

Norman is 85 years young and Joan is 83. “Norm” (as Joan calls him) can’t get around as well as he used to, he needs the assist of a power chair for any distance, but that certainly doesn’t keep him down! He volunteers at Catholic Charities to feed the homeless, and has done so for the last 24 years. Joan belongs to a women’s retiree group, and between them they have been active with many other organizations.

Married for 35 years, this is the second marriage for both. They have 6 children, 15 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren between them. “We put two families together with no problems”, says Norm. Together the blended family enjoyed activities such as camping and houseboating in the Delta.

The two met when they both worked for Shell Oil, Norman in the field and Joan in the office. Although they spoke on the phone often, Joan always thought he was still married and would have nothing to do with THAT! Then one day when Joan was coming out of the office, (the Shell offices were by Plaza Park at that time) and Norman was going in, Norman told a co-worker, “I’m going to ask her to join me for a cocktail”, and the co-worker responded, “take her out to dinner!”

It’s been a great 35 years”, says Joan. They’ve lived several places such as Bakersfield and Sacramento but returned to Ventura in 1989 when Norman retired from Shell because according to Norm, “we wanted to see if the ocean was still there” and according to Joan, “I don’t think you can find a better place to live than Ventura -the weather, the beaches, the mountains – it’s just beautiful!”

When they first retired, the couple became active with the Elderhostel, a non-for-profit organization established in 1975 which offers travel and educational programs in the United States and around the world.

Joan reports their adventures included China, Italy, The Bahamas, France, London and The Panama Canal on Al Capone’s whiskey boat. Often staying in college dorms while traveling, the Elderhostel provides guides as well to accompany the senior adventure seekers. Norman tells me that one time, while in China, a Chinese guide asked him where he got his big tennis shoes, so he reached down and pulled off the tag that read, “made in China.”

Both Norman and Joan like to play games on the computer although she does more Facebook and internet stuff but he likes Solitaire and Mahjong, they even have a computer room with His and Her computers that are positioned side by side and the walls are lined with many years of family photos.

They’ve been known to play tricks on each other, he held a surprise 50th birthday party for her and she gave him a surprise 70th. Joan says, “it took me 20 years to get even!”

Norman George will be 86 on July 20.

Bronze female figures by Ventura sculptor Lynn Creighton

Lynn Creighton is a Ventura sculptor creating bronze female figures of women experiencing the full vibratory rate of their inner core. They are metaphors for women awakening to the gift of their own energy and what it is meant to do. These figures represent women learning to celebrate their own lives from a deep inner connection to the creator profoundly sensed as the creator creates through them.

Creighton’s female figures are abstractions, or, more precisely and meaningfully, essentialities. In strictly art historical terms they are related to the pioneering visions of Henry Moore, Jean Arp, or Constantin Brancusi. Her sculptures can be seen at her new sculpture garden located at 39 E. Harrison. No need to make an appointment they can be admired at any time.

The following was sent by Watkins to city employees

Mark Watkins announces retirement as City Manager.

“ After much thought and discussion with my family I have decided to retire from my position as City Manager effective December 28, 2017. Working for Ventura has been a dream job for me. I was a 26-year old engineer when Amy and I arrived here in November of 1987, we welcomed the birth of our first daughter just a month later and have loved living here ever since. I took a 12 year hiatus to work for the City of Thousand Oaks and was thrilled to come back to Ventura in early 2013 as City Manager.”

“As I reflect on my time here it is easy to think of all of the physical attributes that make Ventura such a great place to live and work. We have a wonderful downtown, beautiful beaches, a great harbor, the pier and promenade, hiking in the hillsides, and cultural amenities. However, what I will remember the most fondly is all of the outstanding city employees that bring their energy and enthusiasm to work every day to continue making this one of the best cities in America.”

“ I am providing a long notice to assure a smooth transition for the organization. I have appreciated the trust the City Council has placed in me and am extremely proud of all that we’ve accomplished during my tenure. In the past 4 years we have been able to restore fiscal stability, refocus the organization on core services and infrastructure, pursue the water resources required for our future, and make headway on complicated issues such as homelessness. With Measure O funding the City is now poised to address Ventura’s highest priority needs, make critical investments in our community, and insure that Ventura remains one of the best places live, work, and recreate.”

“One of the items that I am most proud of is the employee agreements that we have reached over the past several years. We have made progress on increasing salaries and improving contributions to health benefits while balancing the other needs of the city and recognizing our increasing PERS contributions. Our employee groups and all of our employees have shown leadership and understanding in this critical area so that we can continue to have the best work force to serve our community.”

“This has been both the most challenging and rewarding positon that I have held in my 33 year career. It has been an immense pleasure to work with our outstanding department head team, city employees, and our community, and I am confident that the City organization is now well positioned for the future.”

“ I clearly remember that day in November 1987 when I walked out the front door of City Hall, looked down California Street to the ocean and historic pier, and wondered how I could be so fortunate to live and work in such a beautiful place. I still feel blessed to be in Ventura and Amy I plan to remain here and serve the community in other ways. Ventura is a 150 year old city with a rich and proud history, but I truly believe that its best years lie ahead. I am proud to have had the opportunity to serve the City and look forward to great things in the future.”

Mark Watkins-City Manager

City Council Member Matt LaVere told the Breeze “Although it has only been a short time, I have really appreciated my time on council with Mark. He has gone out of his way to work with me on issues important to Ventura. I wish him and Amy nothing but the best as they move into retirement. He leaves Ventura a better place than when he arrived, and that is the mark of a good city manager.”

Vita Art Center presents an Abstract Art Exhibit

To July 30 from 6-9 p.m.

This exhibition presents the work of four regional abstract artists. Each artist uses a visual language of shape, form, color and line to create a composition with a degree of independence from visual references in the world.

Exhibiting Artists:,Scott Gordon,Elana Kundell,Mary Neville,Linda Saccoccio

Foundation delivers adventures for kids with special needs

Seth Shinden with a volunteer buddy of the Best Day Foundation.

by Rebecca Wicks

Seth Shinden, 13, is like other Balboa Middle School students. He enjoys live music, bowling, gymnastics, and just being outside. He has always loved the beach and ocean. Seth is however, autistic and epileptic, which at times makes some activities less accessible.

His parents have worked to keep him close to the sea, making regular visits. While he frequently enjoys time in the sand with his sisters and family, some of his most memorable moments are those surfing and kayaking. Many of these adventures have been made possible by the Best Day Foundation, where volunteers tandem surf or kayak with Seth. Last month, he surfed C-Street tandem-style with one of the Best Day Foundation volunteers, as part of a day organized by the group that works to host activity events for families that have children with special needs.

“Seth loves everything about surfing,” said Katie Shinden, Seth’s mother. “He first did it when he was 5. He was a little nervous at first, but the organization’s volunteer buddies that helped out were great about carrying him into the water and getting him comfortable.”

Nancy Pedersen first started working with the organization in 2010, helping out at events. Today she serves as the co-chair of the Ventura Chapter, and sits on the organization’s national advisory board. She explained how she has been drawn further into the organization, how making memories for kids, their families as well as volunteers – all in the span of one short day – is something she thinks is “cool.”

“I just love the community aspect of each event, the fact that the likes of surfers, high school kids, and seniors come together to make it happen,” Pedersen explained. “We start each event on an empty beach and then with the help of volunteers great stuff happens.”

Seth and thousands of other special needs children have enjoyed tandem surfing, body boarding, kayaking, stand up paddling, outrigger canoeing and more through the organization’s many events around the nation. The group conducts events in Virginia, Florida, New Jersey and five communities in California including Ventura. The Foundation has already held four events this year in Ventura and has four additional upcoming events which will take place at C-Street, on September 10, and Harbor Cove, on August 5, August 26, and October 7.

The Best Day Foundation was founded to share the knowledge and experience developed by Ride a Wave, a similar organization started in Santa Cruz. Each year the group’s event count grows, also adding new locations annually. This year the Foundation will hold upward of 50 events across the country.

Pedersen likes what the organization offers to people who don’t have a way to experience these sports on their own, and has witnessed first hand, their impact. She told of a particular father who was certain his son would not get in the water, who worried he would refuse to participate as he hadn’t shown interest in either water, or water sports in the past. Pedersen wonders if it was because the son never had the opportunity.

According to Pedersen, the son had a great time and the father relayed the following to her, “The dad said, the only limitations are the ones I put on him, and I need to stop doing that – we’re getting beach gear.”