Local news digest – Medicare; County Payments and Gas Prices

Annual changes to medical plans for seniors on Medicare will be coming earlier than usual this year.  Lisa Emerson with the Senior Health Insurance Benefits Assistance program… also called SHIBA…  says the enrollment period begins October 15th… a month earlier than usual.

The advanced time frame was instituted by Medicare to allow enough time to process any changes so that coverage will begin without interruption by January 1st.  Seniors on Medicare will receive letters outlining any changes to their benefits or costs for their coming year this month.  SHIBA can help seniors sift through the plans that are offered and help them find one that meets their needs the best.

Emerson says when evaluating new plans, make sure you have your red, white and blue Medicare card; update your list of prescription drugs and check with your doctor.  To meet with a SHIBA counselor, call the helpline at 800-722-4134 or visit www.oregonshiba.org online.


Oregon lawmakers have formed a legislative task force to focus on potential impacts if Congress does not reauthorize a federal law that has provided critical funds to 33 of Oregon’s 36 counties over the past several years.  That law is commonly referred to as the “County Payments” or “Secure Rural Schools” legislation and was originally intended to replace revenues lost by the dramatic drop off in logging on federal lands in Western Oregon.

The central and south coast will be well represented on the panel.  Coos Bay Representative Arnie Roblan and Senator Joanne Verger will co-chair along with Roseburg Representative Bruce Hanna.


The local average price for a gallon of regular unleaded dipped by a penny this past week… it’s at $3.75; while the statewide average, as measured by Triple-A dropped two cents to $3.81 a gallon.  The national average price, however, plummeted by a dime in the past two weeks and is at $3.48 a gallon.

Marie Dodds with Triple-A says despite the nationwide drop, prices still remain at an historic high.  Americans are likely to spend more on gas in 2011 than every before… nearly $490-billion.  She adds retail gas prices have averaged about a dollar a gallon higher than last year.