If you have Medicare, you can protect your identity and help prevent health care fraud by guarding your Medicare card like you would a credit card. 

Identity theft arising from stolen Medicare numbers is becoming more common. Medicare is in the process of removing Social Security numbers from Medicare cards and replacing them with a new, unique number for each person with Medicare.

Medicare will mail new Medicare cards with the new numbers between April 2018 and April 2019.

The new card won’t change your Medicare coverage or benefits. And there's no charge for your new card.

But watch out for scammers!

Thieves may try to get your current Medicare number and other personal information by contacting you about your new Medicare card. They may claim to be from Medicare and use various phony pitches to get your Medicare number, such as: Asking you to confirm your Medicare or Social Security number so they can send you a new card; Telling you there's a charge for your new card and they need to verify your personal information; Threatening to cancel your health benefits if you don’t share your Medicare number or other personal information.

Don't fall for any of this.

Don’t share your Medicare number or other personal information with anyone who contacts you by phone, email, or by approaching you in person, unless you’ve given them permission in advance.

Medicare, or someone representing Medicare, will only call and ask for personal information in these situations; A Medicare health or drug plan can call you if you’re already a member of the plan. The agent who helped you join can also call you; A customer service representative from 1-800-MEDICARE can call if you’ve called and left a message or a representative said that someone would call you back.

Only give personal information like your Medicare number to doctors, insurers acting on your behalf, or trusted people in the community who work with Medicare, like counselors from the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP).

If someone calls you and asks for your Medicare number or other personal information, hang up and call us at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).  

There are other steps you can take to protect yourself from identity theft that can lead to health care fraud.

Don’t ever let anyone borrow or pay to use your Medicare number. And review your Medicare Summary Notice to be sure you and Medicare are being charged only for items and services you actually received.

We’re in the midst of Medicare open enrollment season right now. This is the time every year when you can sign up for, switch, or drop a Medicare health plan (Part C) or a Medicare prescription drug plan (Part D). Open enrollment ends Dec. 7.

Scam artists often try to take advantage of open enrollment season. So if someone calls and tries to get you to sign up for a Medicare plan, keep in mind there are no “early bird discounts” or “limited time offers.” 

Don’t let anyone rush you to enroll by claiming you need to “act now for the best deal.” And be skeptical of promises of free gifts, free medical services, discount packages or any offer that sounds too good to be true.

It probably is.

To learn more about protecting yourself from identity theft and health care fraud, visit www.Medicare.gov/fraud or contact your local Senior Medicare Patrol (www.smpresource.org).

Greg Dill is Medicare’s regional administrator for Arizona, California, Nevada, Hawaii, and the Pacific Territories. You can always get answers to your Medicare questions by calling 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).

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PCWA Receives Certificate of Excellence

PCWA Special release  |  2017-12-10

Dane Wadlé of California Special Districts Association presents the District Transparency Certificate of Excellence to the PCWA Board of
Directors. Photo courtesy PCWA

AUBURN, CA (MPG) - The Placer County Water Agency (PCWA) was presented with the District Transparency Certificate of Excellence at the Agency's Board of Directors meeting on October 19. The certificate, awarded by the Special District Leadership Foundation (SDLF), recognizes transparency in the operations and governance of PCWA.

"We're always mindful of the fact that we're a public agency tasked with the goal of serving and representing the water resource interests of the county and our customers," PCWA General Manager, Einar Maisch said. "Being transparent is essential to that goal. I would like to commend our staff, and the Board, on receiving this certificate."

Established in 2013, the District Transparency Certificate program was created by the SDLF in an effort to promote and recognize commitment by a special district to being open and accessible to the public it serves. To be considered for the certificate, agencies are required to meet a set of transparency standards pertaining to the daily operations and the governance of the special district.

The SDLF is an independent, non-profit organization formed to promote good governance and best practices among California's special districts through certification, accreditation and other recognition programs. The SDLF and its activities are supported by the California Special Districts Association and the Special District Risk Management Authority.

PCWA is the primary water resource agency for Placer County, California, with a broad range of responsibilities including water resource planning and management, retail and wholesale supply of drinking water and irrigation water, and production of hydroelectric energy.

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Top Public Safety Groups Laud Senator Nielsen’s Legislative Work

By Nghia Nguyen  |  2017-12-10

Senator Nielsen

Top Public Safety Groups Laud Senator Nielsen’s Legislative Work

Placer County, CA (MPG) - The California Police Chiefs Association and the California District Attorneys Association praised Senator Jim Nielsen (R-Red Bluff) for his strong public safety voting record. In their annual review of the Legislator’s votes, California’s top public safety organizations ranked Sen. Nielsen as one of the top defenders of the state’s law enforcement and advocate for criminal justice.

“There is no such thing as a "victimless crime." Our responsibility as legislators is to establish laws that hold criminals accountable and ensure justice for crime victims. Public safety is our most important obligation as elected leaders and I am grateful for the support of those on the front line who work every day to ensure safety and justice," said Senator Jim Nielsen.

Senator Nielsen supported all of the legislation that was important to the California Police Chiefs Association (CPCA).

Representing over 330 active municipal police chiefs, CPCA’s members protect more than 26 million Californians. CPCA closely monitors the legislative process in light of lawmakers’ continuous efforts to undermine the criminal justice system and the alarming rise in violent crime.

Understanding the critical role of prosecutors, Senator Nielsen worked closely with district attorneys to ensure that laws passed allow criminals to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and that victims and their loved ones are participants in the criminal justice process. As a result of his efforts, Senator Nielsen received their top ranking.

Elected to the State Senate in January 2013, Senator Nielsen represents the Fourth Senate District, which includes the counties of Butte, Colusa, Glenn, Placer, Sacramento, Sutter, Tehama and Yuba. To contact Senator Jim Nielsen, please call him at 916-651-4004, or via email at senator.nielsen@senate.ca.gov. Follow him on Twitter.

Source: The Office of Senator Nielsen

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In the mail to residents and business in Placer County

PLACER COUNTY, CA (MPG) -  In December, residents and businesses will receive the first of several notices informing them about the coming change in their electric energy supply from Pioneer Community Energy (Pioneer).

Auburn, Colfax, Lincoln, Loomis, Rocklin and Placer County have partnered to provide lower cost electricity to the residents and businesses within their jurisdictions.

Every customer will continue to receive a PG&E bill that will show Pioneer Community Energy as the provider of the electricity generation. All payments will continue to be sent to PG&E. PG&E will continue to transmit and deliver the electricity, maintain the power lines, and respond to all service needs, such as power outages.

"Instead of being beholden to a statewide entity subject to the whims of its stockholders, the Pioneer Board establishes local control over electricity rates and will be able to design programs that meet the needs of the residents and businesses in Placer County." said Supervisor Jennifer Montgomery, Chair of the Pioneer Community Energy Governing Board. "With local control, we can provide lower and more stable rates and do more to meet the local goals and priorities of our communities."

Enrollment starts in February 2018, and will be automatic, to ensure fair and equal access to the benefits of Pioneer electricity rates and programs for all ratepayers. All residents and businesses in the service territory then have the choice to continue receiving the benefits of Pioneer Community Energy, or to remain with PG&E.  For more information, visit www.pioneercommunityenergy.ca.gov [1] or call 1 (844) YES - PIONEEER (1-844-937-4766), toll free.
 

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Placer County, CA (MPG) - Assemblyman Kevin Kiley, a former public school teacher and Deputy Attorney General, representing Sacramento, Placer, and El Dorado Counties, has endorsed Andrew Grant for Congress.

“As a Californian, and with his experience in national security, business ownership, and economic development, Andrew is eminently qualified to represent in U.S. Congress,” said Kiley.

Kiley, in his first term in the Assembly, joins Senator Jim Nielsen, Sheriff Scott Jones, Assemblyman James Gallagher, and former Congressman Doug Ose in support of Grant’s candidacy.

Andrew Grant is the former CEO of the Northern California World Trade Center, promoting expanded trade in the region.  A graduate of the US Naval Academy, he joined the Marines and served as an intelligence officer and reconnaissance commander, with tours in Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and across Europe.  As a combat veteran, he fought alongside Special Forces units against Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and protected Albanian citizens in Kosovo.  He served on the staff of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and finished his uniformed service with the Defense Intelligence Agency’s North Korea analysis group.

For more information visit www.AndrewGrantForCongress.com [1].

Source: From the Office of Kevin Kiley

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Area Museums Get Into the Holiday Spirit 

By Traci Rockefeller Cusack   |  2017-12-06

Sacramento Area Museums (SAM) are featuring a number of holiday-related events and activities. Photo courtesy of Sacramento History Museum

SACRAMENTO, CA (MPG) -  Imagine. Explore. Discover.  In addition to its fascinating Gold Rush past, the Sacramento area is rich with an amazing array of state-of-the-art museums and historic sites that offer visitors the chance to explore California’s fine art, history, science, and wildlife treasures all year long. In December, many of the nearly 30 members of Sacramento Area Museums (SAM) are featuring a number of holiday-related events and activities, a sampling of which includes the following:

Twinkling Tractors at the California Agriculture Museum – Now thru December 
The California Agriculture Museum in Woodland offers fun holiday sights and music to experience as they showcase tractors decked with holiday lights. Offered on Tuesdays through Fridays now through the month of December, guests can stroll through the Museum and enjoy holiday lights without concern of being rained out. For more, visit www.californiaagmuseum.org.

State Capitol Holiday Music Program Now thru December 23, 2017
Amid a beautiful backdrop of vintage decorations in the Capitol Rotunda, a variety of diverse and amazing holiday musical performances will entertain State Capitol guests throughout the holidays. Depending on the day, visitors will enjoy FREE live musical entertainment from groups and performers such as High Voltage - El Dorado Theater Co., Camellia Flute Choir, Sacramento Opera Carolers, Salvation Army Brass Band, Girl Scouts of the Sierra, bell-ringers, harps, accordions, Broadway-style song and dance, baroque and brass ensembles, talented school choirs, and barbershop harmony. For more, call 916-324-0333 or visit www.capitolmuseum.ca.gov/images/pdf/holidaymusicprogram2017.pdf.
 
Home for the Holidays Exhibit at the Roseville Utility Exploration Center – Now thru 1/4

Shopping, decorations, visitors, travel....the holiday season can be a stressful time for everyone and for our planet, too. Learn ways to take care of yourself and the earth as you prepare for this busy time. Stop by for some helpful hints on making your holidays more sustainable with the Home for the Holidays exhibit. Learn what lights are the most efficient to use when decorating, where to dispose of that tree when you're done with it and how to keep those pipes clear when you're cooking all day. Help make it a clean, green and happy holiday for everyone. For more, visit www.roseville.ca.us/explore.

Gingerbread Holiday at the Old Sacramento Schoolhouse Museum – 12/1 thru 12/21
The community is invited to enter gingerbread creations at the Old Sacramento Schoolhouse Museum 12/1 or 12/2 and also encouraged to visit the museum to see dozens of sweet confections on display during the 30th Annual Gingerbread Holiday celebration. Always FREE, there will be houses, mansions, shacks and other gingerbread structures created by school children, families, bakery academy students and adults. Contest entries are divided into categories:  children, youth, adult, family, school or youth groups and high school culinary academies and guests can vote in the “Visitor’s Favorite” category. For more, visit http://oldsacschoolhouse.scoe.net/.

DDSO Holiday Pop-up at Verge Center for the Arts – 12/1, 12/9 & Ongoing thru December
Verge is teaming up again with DDSO (Developmental Disabilities Service Organization) for the holidays! The community is invited to shop for original artworks, pillows, clothes, jewelry and other one-of-a-kind gifts for your loved ones (or for yourself). DDSO is one of the most respected nonprofits in the Sacramento and San Joaquin regions, providing a diverse range of services for adults with developmental disabilities. This is a great opportunity to help support them and champion the creativity and potential within the hearts and minds of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Verge looks forward to welcoming the community this December on First Friday, Second Saturday (6 to 9 p.m.) or during normal gallery hours. For more, please visit http://www.vergeart.com/attend/ddso-holiday-pop-up/.

Gold Fever! Tours Offered by the Sacramento History Museum – Weekends thru 12/17
Perfect for families and friends, guests to Old Sacramento can experience what it was like to catch gold fever while getting actively involved in the intriguing Gold Fever! guided tours. Each tour guest has the unique opportunity to take on the persona of a character in history – or a “real-life rascal” – who scratched and clawed their way to make this area the center of the Gold Rush. Never the same tour twice, Gold Fever! tours depart at 10:30 a.m., noon and 1:30 p.m. from the Sacramento Visitors Center in Old Sacramento. For more, visit www.sachistorymuseum.org.



Old Sacramento Underground Tours Offered by the Sacramento History Museum – Weekends & Daily 12/26 thru 12/31
To finish off the 2017 season in a festive and fun way, Old Sacramento Underground Tours continue on weekends in December and are offered daily between Christmas and the New Year. The Sacramento History Museum offers a unique and memorable underground tour experience for friends and families to enjoy together. Visitors can take the hour-long tour at either 11 a.m., 12:30 p.m. or 2 p.m. each weekend and day during this holiday week. Note no tours are available 12/24 or 12/25.  For more, visit www.sachistorymuseum.org.



All Nations Native Craft Faire at the Maidu Museum & Historic Site – 12/2
Guests will enjoy an artisan crafts such as Native jewelry, basketry, handmade crafts and more. There will be more than 20 Native American artisans from California tribes and the Cherokee Nation.  Shoppers will also enjoy live entertainment including tribal drumming, traditional music and singing. For more, visit www.roseville.ca.us/cms/one.aspx?pageId=8918739.

All Aboard for Story Time with Mrs. Claus at the Railroad Museum – 12/4
 It’s All Aboard for Story Time! with Mrs.Claus as a celebrity guest reader at 11 a.m. at the California State Railroad Museum. To the delight of young children and train enthusiasts alike, Mrs. Claus will read the children’s books The Night Before Christmas and Thomas and the Christmas Tree (both are Thomas and Friends books). In addition to this special, holiday-style All Aboard for Story Time!, photos with Santa Claus will be available (for a fee) on Wednesdays through Sundays through December 21 from 2:30 to 9:30 p.m. in the historic Eagle Theatre located in Old Sacramento State Historic Park. For more, please visit www.californiarailroad.museum

11th Annual California Hall of Fame Ceremony & Exhibit at the California Museum – 12/5 & 12/6
Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. and First Lady Anne Gust Brown will soon induct the California Hall of Fame 11th Class at the California Museum. The new class of inductees includes Lucille Ball, Susan Desmond-Hellmann, Mabel McKay, Mario J. Molina, Jim Plunkett, Gary Snyder, Steven Spielberg, Michael Tillson Thomas and Warren Winiarski. The California Hall of Fame celebrates Californians who embody the state’s spirit of innovation and have made their mark on history. Members of the public are invited to watch the ceremony live webcast on 12/5 at 7 p.m. at https://youtu.be/Cr2wqqCr9AU and visit the Museum’s all-new exhibition featuring artifacts on loan from inductees opening on 12/6. For more, please visit http://www.californiamuseum.org/california-hall-fame.

Winter Wonderland at Fairytale Town – 12/9, 10, 16 & 17
Celebrate the holiday season in Whoville!  Fairytale Town will be trimmed with festive holiday décor and a dazzling display of lights, starting at dusk each evening. Guests will enjoy Dr. Seuss and Grinch-themed hands-on activities throughout the event. Visitors can listen to strolling Victorian carolers, shop for gifts from local vendors, step inside a giant snow globe and enjoy a flurry of snow falling nightly at 7 p.m. near the Mother Goose Stage.  For more, visit www.fairytaletown.org.

Holiday Magic at the Sacramento Zoo – 12/9
Why should only humans receive gifts during the holidays? It’s time for Holiday Magic when the community has the special opportunity to watch as the animals unwrap their holiday goodies!  Plus, Zoo visitors who bring a donation for Loaves & Fishes will receive $1 off admission. For more, visit www.saczoo.org.

Holiday Craft Bar at Verge Center for the Arts – 12/9
Stop by Verge and add that extra touch to your holiday gifts and decorations! Whether you want to make your own wrapping paper, holiday cards, present tags, bows, or other holiday touches, Verge will have the materials for you. This is a drop-in event running from 2 to 5 p.m. for one-day-only. Head to Second Saturday after making your items for a full art day. For more information, visit http://www.vergeart.com/classes/holiday-craft-bar/.

Hands on History: A Simple Emigrant Christmas at Sutter’s Fort – 12/9
In John Sutter’s day, people from around the world passed through the gates of Sutter’s Fort, each with their own customs and traditions for the holiday season. “A Simple Emigrant Christmas” offers several vignettes showing holiday scenes, including foods, music, decorations, and traditions from other cultures. During this special “Hands on History” event, Fort visitors can participate in a number of hands-on activities such as dipping and creating their own holiday candles, crafting their own “keepsake” holiday ornaments – that include snowflakes, cornhusk angels and bird nests – plus making holiday cards with nib (or “dip”) pens and colored ink, grinding raw wheat into “Christmas flour,” singing Christmas carols with Fort musicians and more. For more, visit www.suttersfort.org.

Pajama Party at the Sacramento Zoo – 12/24
Guests can celebrate Christmas Eve for FREE at the Sacramento Zoo without even changing out of their pajamas! Festive and fun, get there early as the Zoo will close early at 1:30 p.m. that day so the dedicated staff can enjoy time with their families. Plus, the community is encouraged to join the Loaves & Fishes Holiday Drive at the zoo by donating baby wipes, new gloves, news socks, or unused toiletries at the zoo entrance. For more, visit www.saczoo.org.

New “Forces: Earth & Space” Exhibit Opens at the Powerhouse Science Center – 12/16

Powerhouse Science Center is offering a wonderful holiday destination for guests to enjoy when they open a new exhibit that showcases how the forces of the universe make stars shine, planets orbit, and galaxies hold together complex extraterrestrial systems. In addition, guests will learn how matter and energy work in synchronicity and incredible things happen in the vastness of space. Note the museum will be closed 12/4 thru 12/15 to prepare for the exciting new exhibit. For more, visit www.powerhousesc.org.

Free Admission Day at Fairytale Town – 12/24
As a special holiday treat, Fairytale Town is giving the gift of free admission to guests who visit on Christmas Eve between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Take a break from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season with a day of free play for the whole family. What fun! For more, visit www.fairytaletown.org


“Twelve Days of Space Science” at the Powerhouse Science Center – 12/26 thru 1/7
The community is invited to celebrate “Twelve Days of Space Science” at the Powerhouse. From alien encounters to comet parts and fizzing liquids to ice moons, guests will check out a different hands-on space activity and space-themed story each day (excluding New Year’s Day when the science center is closed). For more, visit www.powerhousesc.org.

“The Sound of Music Holiday Event” at the Crocker Art Museum – 12/28
The Crocker’s screening of The Sound of Music returns for its sixth and final year with costume contests, door prizes, yodeling, singing, and lots of laughs. Starring Julie Andrews, with music by the famed Rodgers and Hammerstein, this multi-Academy-Award-winning film tickles the heart and warms the soul. Dress in costume, purchase a Movie Fun Pack to make things even more interesting, and sing your heart out to the film’s iconic and beloved soundtrack. Two screenings will be held in the Crocker’s plush auditorium at 1:30 and 6 p.m. Advance registration is encouraged as this event sells out each year. For tickets, please visit www.crockerart.org or call 916-808-1182 for more information.

Who Year Celebration & New Year’s Eve Party at the Sacramento Children’s Museum – 12/31
During the daytime, the Museum is proud to offer a fun Who Year New Year celebration! Every hour on the hour starting at 12 p.m., guests can enjoy bubble stomps to ring in the New Year around the world. They’ll also have noise-maker making in the Art Studio and more!  Then in the evening, guests can enjoy the 2nd Annual Who Year New Year’s Eve Party (a ticketed event). Festivities will go from 9 p.m. to 12:15 a.m. and will include dancing, continued noise maker-making and bubble stomps, games, light refreshments, and Museum play, culminating in a New Year's countdown to midnight. For more, visit www.sackids.org.

For more information about upcoming activities offered by Sacramento area museums, “like” them on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/SacMuseums, follow them on Instagram and Twitter @SacMuseums or visit the user-friendly website at www.SacMuseums.org.
 

About the Sacramento Area Museums (SAM)
Comprised of nearly 30 greater Sacramento area museums working in partnership with Visit Sacramento, SAM’s mission is to raise awareness of local museums by giving the community the opportunity to discover California’s fine art, history, science and wildlife treasures. SAM achieves its mission through implementing cooperative promotions and developing strategic marketing alliances, by encouraging sharing of knowledge and resources among its partner institutions.  For more information, visit www.SacMuseums.org
 

Source: T-Rock Communications

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Save for Retirement Now, Get a Tax Credit Later

WASHINGTON, DC - The Internal Revenue Service reminds low- and moderate-income workers to plan now to earn a credit on their 2017 tax return. A special tax break can help people with modest incomes save for retirement. It’s called the Saver’s Credit and it could mean up to a 50 percent credit for the first $2,000 a taxpayer contributes to a retirement plan.

Also known as the Retirement Savings Contributions Credit, the Saver’s Credit helps offset part of the amount workers voluntarily contribute to a traditional or Roth IRA, a 401(k) or 403 (b) plan, and similar workplace retirement programs.

Taxpayers with an IRA have until April 17, 2018, (the due date of their 2017 tax return) to contribute to the plan and still have it qualify for 2017. However, contributions (elective deferrals) to an employer-sponsored plan must be made by the end of the year to qualify for the credit. Employees who are unable to set aside money for this year may want to schedule their 2018 contributions soon so their employer can begin withholding in January.

The Saver’s Credit can be claimed by:

  • Married couples filing jointly with incomes up to $62,000 in 2017 or $63,000 in 2018
  • Heads of Household with incomes up to $46,500 in 2017 or $47,250 for 2018
  • Singles and married individuals filing separately with incomes up to $31,000 in 2017 or $31,500 in 2018

To qualify for the credit, a person must be:

  • Age 18 or older
  • Not a full-time student
  • Not claimed as a dependent on another person’s tax return

Like other tax credits, the Saver’s Credit can increase a taxpayer’s refund or reduce the amount of tax owed. Though the maximum Saver’s Credit is $1,000 ($2,000 for married couples), the IRS cautioned that it is often much less and may be zero for some taxpayers.

The amount of the credit is based on filing status, income, overall tax liability and the amount contributed to a qualifying retirement plan. It may also be impacted by other credits and deductions or reduced by any recent distributions from a retirement plan.

To claim the Saver’s Credit, taxpayers must complete Form 8880 and attach it to their tax return. Form 8880 cannot be used with Form 1040EZ.

In tax year 2015, the most recent year for which complete figures are available, Saver’s Credits totaling nearly $1.4 billion were claimed on more than 8.1 million individual income tax returns.

The Saver’s Credit can also add to other tax benefits available to people who contribute to their retirement; for example, most workers can also deduct contributions to a traditional IRA.

Source: IRS Media

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