|Issue 5||May 1996||Volume 1 - Number 5|
Welcome to Issue 5 of the CANDOER NEWS. I welcome suggestions as to what you would like to see in the News. I will publish, unedited, letters to the editor, articles consisting of general information, feature articles, G-rated jokes, or poems, written/submitted by retirees or OC/IM employees past or present. Any contribution may be submitted on a 3.5" floppy disk (it will be returned), using WordPerfect 6.1 or earlier (if it contains graphics) or on a plain sheet of white paper (if it has no graphics). Deadline for submitting material is the first day of each month. Articles/submissions given to me at a luncheon will be published in the next issue of the News. Please restrict articles/submissions to no more than two (2) single spaced, typed pages. No hand written submissions, please.
My mailing address for contributions or letters to the editor is:
Robert J. Catlin, Sr.
2670 Dakota Street
Bryans Road, MD 20616-3062
Before our next luncheon a major holiday, Memorial Day, will occur. Authorities are predicting the highest number of highway casualties ever recorded for this holiday. Please, don't be part of those grim statistics. Enjoy the holiday, but all of you, please drive carefully and return safe and sound for our next luncheon.
They have been expecting you. They knew that eventually you'd show up. It won't be possible for you to know what is happening, so I'm going to take the liberty of filling you in.
The beginning for you will be when you stagger to your car. The beginning for them will be when a bulletin goes out on the police radio reporting the location of a serious accident with instruction to "proceed at once."
You won't hear the sirens. The ambulance and the police car will arrive together. They will check you over and pronounce you dead.
A few curious motorists who heard or saw the crash will stop their cars and walk back to look at your broken, bloody body. Some of them will get sick.
The ambulance driver will roll out a stretcher. The attendant will stuff your hands under your belt and grab you under the arms. The driver will take hold of your legs. You will be placed on the stretcher and covered with a blanket.
They'll drive you to the coroner's office, where a deputy coroner will wheel you over to a scale. He'll remove the blanket, shake his head and say, "Another one."
Your clothes will be cut off. You will be weighed and measured.
The deputy coroner will make a record of your injuries, cover you up again and wheel you to a small room with white-tiled walls. There are hoses in that room. Traffic victims are almost always a bloody mess.
You will be cleaned up (as much as possible) and moved to a long hall with several stretchers lined up against its pale green walls. In that hall are several crypts. If it has been a slow evening you will have a stretcher and a crypt all to yourself. But if it's Christmas, New Year's, Labor or Memorial Day weekend, you will have lots of company.
They will go away and leave you there in the quietest room in town.
In an hour or so they will come back and move you again. You will be placed behind a large glass window so your wife or your husband or your parents or a friend can identify you.
You won't see the agony and pain in their eyes, and it's just as well. Nor will you hear the screams and sobbing when they lower the sheet and ask, "Is this your husband ... wife ... son ... daughter ... brother .. . sister ... friend?"
As I was saying, they are waiting for you--the police, the ambulance crews, the coroners at the morgue and the morticians. They are expecting you.
Remember this, when you toss down that last drink and climb behind the steering wheel. If you must drink, don't drive. If you must drive, don't drink.
WHAT IS MEDICARE?
The following information is being furnished by your friendly neighborhood editor, as a guide only. I have compiled this information from several sources, including, but not limited to, Retirement Times, The Washington Post and a handbook published by the Health Care Financing Administration entitled Your Medicare Handbook. This article explains some of the information about the Medicare program and is NOT intended to be a legal document.
Donna, a clerk at the Social Security Administration, and a neighbor, reviewed the article for me and stated, "it is factual."
Medicare is a federal health insurance program for people 65 or older and certain disabled people. It is run by the Health Care Financing Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. All Social Security Administration offices across the country take applications for Medicare. In addition, they will provide general information about the program.
Medicare is made up of two parts:
Hospital Insurance (Part A)
Medicare Part A helps pay for:
Inpatient hospital care.
Inpatient care in a skilled nursing facility following a hospital stay.
Home health care.
Medical Insurance (Part B)
Medicare Part B helps pay for:
Outpatient hospital care.
Durable medical equipment.
Many other health services and supplies that are not covered by Medicare Part A.
Who can Get Medicare Hospital Insurance (Part A)?
You can get premium-free Medicare Part A if you are 65 or older and any one of these four statements is true:
You receive benefits under the Social Security or Railroad Retirement System.
You could receive benefits under Social Security or the Railroad Retirement system but have not filed for them.
You or your spouse had Medicare-covered government employment.
You are receiving continuing dialysis for permanent kidney failure or if you have had a kidney transplant. (Information about this coverage can be found in the Consumer Information Center publication Medicare Coverage of Kidney Dialysis and Kidney Transplant Services.)
Who Can Get Medicare Medical Insurance (Part B)?
Any person who can get premium-free Medicare Part A benefits as described above can enroll for Part B.
If you are already getting Social Security when you turn 65, you will automatically get a Medicare card in the mail. The card will show that you can get both Medicare Hospital Insurance (Part A) and Medical Insurance (Part B) benefits. If you do not want Part B, instructions come with the card on the actions necessary on your part.
Some People Have to Apply
You may not automatically get a Medicare card. You will have to apply if:
You have not applied for Social Security,
Government employment is involved, or
You have kidney disease.
You should file your application three months before the month you first meet the requirements for Medicare. If you do not sign up for Medicare three months ahead of the time you become eligible, your coverage will be delayed from one to three months, after you do enroll.
If you do not enroll for Medicare Part B during a period of seven months from the time you are eligible (three months before and four months after), you will not be allowed to enroll until the next general enrollment period. A general enrollment period is held each year from January 1 through March 31. If you enroll during this general enrollment period, your coverage will not begin until July of that year.
What does Medicate pay for
Medicare, by law, cannot pay for certain services.
Services performed by immediate relatives or members of your household, and services which another government programs pays for.
Custodial care when this is the only kind of care you need.
Services that are "not reasonable and necessary" for the diagnosis or treatment of an illness or injury.
Drugs or devices that have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
Services, including drugs or devices, not considered safe and effective because they are experimental or investigational.
Services outside the United States. Except certain cases in Canada and Mexico. Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands are considered part of the United States.
Medicare or not Medicare, that is the question?
While every retirees situation may be different with respect to health plan coverage, there are some general guidelines you should follow when deciding whether to sign up for Medicare when you reach 65.
Anyone who qualifies for Medicare Part A should enroll. It is premium-free. Anyone who worked for the federal government on January 1, 1983 or later, is automatically eligible for Medicare, even if you do not have the 40 quarters of Social Security required to get Part A benefits.
In addition, your spouse qualifies for Part A based on your coverage, even if they do not qualify on their own. Again, premium-free. If you do not qualify for Part A on your own, or on your spouse's coverage, you will have to pay a premium. At the present time the premium is $261 per month or $3,132 annually. Unless the benefits justify the heavy premium, it may not be a justifiable expense. That is your decision, based on your medical expenses. Most Federal Employees Health Benefit Program plans have good hospitalization coverage.
Medicare Part B is another question. It is available to anyone over the age of 65. The current premium rate is $42.50 a month or $510 a year.
If you are enrolled in a fee-for-service plan (Blue Cross/Blue Shield, GEHA, NALC, APWU, Mail Handlers, Alliance or Postmasters) you will find that Medicare pays first for most services and your service plan pays the difference. In most cases, your fee-for-service plan will pay for the services not covered by Medicare. Because individual physicians or providers provide the services, Medicare and your plan combined may provide 100 percent coverage. For Part B enrollees the fee-for-service plans waive most of their deductibles, coinsurance and co-payment. As a result, Federal Employees Health Benefits Program enrollees with both Medicare Parts A and B have little or no out-of-pocket expenses.
You may not need Part B coverage if you are enrolled in a HMO (Kaiser, Humana, etc.). HMOs usually provide a full range of services to all members. Therefore, the need for Medicare Part B is not as critical as for fee-for-service members. While fee-for-service plans are required to waive deductibles, coinsurance and copayments, HMOs are not. It is their option. You should check with your insurance plan before making a decision.
Understand this, it may be smart for most fee-for-service plan members to enroll in Medicare at age 65, but it is neither mandatory nor required. At the present time, none of the Federal Employees Health Benefit Program insurance plans require you to sign up for Medicare Part B.
If you make a decision not to enroll in Medicare Part B at age 65, understand , if you later decide that you would like to do so, there is a heavy penalty. The penalty amounts to an increase in the premiums of 10 percent per year for each year you failed to enroll. (Example: The premiums presently are $42.50 per month. If you do not enroll when you reach 65 but decide to enroll at 66 the premiums would jump to $46.75 per month--If you wait until you are 75 your premiums would go up to $63.75.)
If you decide not to enroll and your employer-sponsored health plan is terminated, or you do not retire until after you are 65, you can enroll without penalty within seven months of the termination of the health plan or seven months from the date of your retirement.
You may order free publications about Medicare writing to: Consumer Information Center, Department 33, Pueblo, CO 81009.
During the month of April there were two CANDOER Luncheons. The first, our regularly scheduled luncheon, occurred on April 9. In attendance, braving the last winter snow storm of '96, were 13 of our regulars, Bob Berger, Bob Campopiano, Bob Catlin, Charlie Ditmeyer, Harry Laury, Bob Liebau, Babe Martin, Will Naeher, Bob Scheller, Doc Sloan, Tom Warren, Norris Watts, and one honorary CANDOER, Brad Rosendahl.
One of our regulars, Al Giovetti, has not attended a luncheon since February. Al went into the hospital in February to have his carotid arteries cleaned. While in the hospital, another problem was discovered and Al had to have by-pass surgery on one artery and a heart valve replaced, in addition to having both carotid arteries cleaned. During the surgery, he suffered a series of strokes. In a telephone conversation I had with Al, he said he is "Ok." Al told me he has some paralysis in his left leg and arm as a result of the strokes, but he is getting around with help. He is convalescing at home. His doctor feels he should fully recovery with time and therapy. Al hopes to be able to feel well enough to attend our May luncheon.
The second luncheon was held on April 23. This was a special CANDOER luncheon for Jim Prosser who came out of the frozen tundra of Green Bay to attend a grandchild's christening here in the Washington Metropolitan area. In attendance at this luncheon were ten of our regular members. They included Jim Carter, Bob Catlin, Ralph Crain, Harry Laury, Bob Liebau, Graham Lobb, Tom Paolozzi, Will Naeher, Nate Reynolds, and Bob Scheller. Four new CANDOERs attended. They included Carmen Bevacqua, Jim Casey, Ken Loff and special guest Jim Prosser.
Ken Ernie, on detail from the Department of State, DTSPO to the Office of the Manager, National Communications System (OMNCS), stopped at our table for a few minutes to say hello. Ken was in Friday's with a group from the OMNCS who were taking their secretaries to lunch.
I still have not received information on the following retirees:
Please, if you have any information on any of these retirees furnish it to me. A telephone number, a point of contact, any bit of information I can use to obtain further information will be appreciated. I have had other retirees inquire about all four people.
On Wednesday, April 10, I spent several minutes in a telephone conversation with Joe Hazewski. Joe told me he has sold all his property in this area, including the lake property, and on or about Saturday, April 13 will move to Texas. He and Bonnie are probably going to spend the summer in Texas and then start traveling throughout the U.S. He is not sure where they will finally settle, but will let us know when they have made up their mind and obtain a permanent mailing address. In the meantime, Joe says he will keep in touch with Tom Paolozzi.
The weather in Nebraska can be rather pleasant, but it can also be quite ugly. Winter often produced extreme cold. We had a big round thermometer out in the corral and I well remember one morning when I was up atop a haystack pitching hay down to the cattle when my father announced that it was 36 below zero. Winter was long. The first frost usually would be in late September, spring thaw in late March. The wind seemed always to be blowing in winter from the north or northwest. Summer was hot, often exceeding 100 degrees with the never-ending wind, only now it came in from the desert southwest. Humidity was extremely low, often less than 10 percent. No one needed a weather vane; if you wanted to know which way the wind was blowing, you just looked out to see which way the barn was leaning.
During the early thirties, the drought was so severe that crops amounted to little or nothing. In addition, 1934 saw the infamous dust storms, clouds of dust so thick that it turned dark in mid-afternoon. This dust was said to be Oklahoma's top soil blowing in.
These were hard times. Many farmers lost their land, everyone suffered in some way. Money was unbelievably scarce. Farmers who did manage to hang on to their land had to sell down most of their livestock, including breeding stock, for lack of feed for the animals. Pastures were dried up, crops shriveled up.
Boys on the farm started helping with chores at a very young age, doing little and probably inconsequential things at about the age of 8, progressing each year to more and more things. In 1934 my father designated a certain calf as MY calf. I was 12 years old, had been helping for probably 4 years and this was the first time that a critter was called MINE. I took very special care of that calf, even went all up and down the roads pulling weeds for it to eat, since the pasture was nearly all dried up. By late fall, he was a nice 900 pound steer, and it was off to market (the Omaha stockyards). The steer of course went in a truck with other cattle. The trucker got a small fee, the stockyards got a small fee, and I got a check for 19 dollars and change. Today, you can carry $19 worth of beef in one hand. I remember buying a used 12-gauge shotgun for 3 dollars, a pair of shoes and some clothes and my money was about gone.
You have all heard at least one song about the "tumblin' tumbleweeds." These things are very real. A plant of the thistle family, they grow 12 to 16 inches in diameter, depending on whether it rained once or twice during that summer. They were almost perfectly round, but with a single stem of course. Frost killed the plant, it soon dried out, the stem broke off at ground level. With never a lack of wind, they went rolling along. They were very prickly, not something you wanted to handle. Sometimes they piled up at fences until the wind changed directions, and then they continued to roll around until they disintegrated.
The following article is for those of you who are still interested in what is going on at State.
The Department is establishing the Office of Chief Information Officer (CIO) with responsibility to ensure information resources (technology, people, funds, and information itself) are efficiently and effectively brought to bear on the achievement of strategic Department missions, strengthened planning and improved utilization of information resources are prerequisites for OMB and Congressional support of the funding levels we will require to carry out our mandated missions. Eliza McClenaghan has been designated chief information officer. She has been serving as a special assistant to the under secretary for management on management and information resources management issues and as a senior advisor to the acting chief information officer.
In May, 1995, following Secretary Christopher's decisions on recommendations from the Strategic Management Initiative (SMI), the Department created the position of chief information officer with broad authority to coordinate the modernization of Department information systems, to recommend funding priorities within the information systems area, and to set Department-wide information technology standards. The Department is now officially establishing an Office of the Chief Information Officer, consistent with applicable Congressional requirements.
Further impetus for the establishment of the new office comes from OMB and Congressional interest in measures to ensure that agencies acquire information technology and manage information resources to achieve cost effective and efficient operations, and to provide improved services to taxpayers. Enactment of the Information Technology Management Reform Act of 1996, which mandates that agencies establish a CIO position, reflects a broad and powerful commitment to tighter investment criteria and results oriented management. Those of you currently involved with implementing our new information technology planning and budgeting procedures will recognize that we are in the vanguard of a government-wide initiative.
Major CIO Duties
Broadly speaking, the CIO has two functions: (1) Principal adviser to senior Department management on how to strengthen cost-effective, efficient and timely application of information resources (technology, personnel, funds, and information itself) to achieve strategic Department missions, and (2) oversight of Department information resources policies, plans and programs.
With respect to the second of these functions, the CIO will, for example, oversee modernization of the Department's information systems, development of an information architecture (in effect, a framework that will permit the introduction of new technologies), and establishment of technical and operating standards for Department information systems. In collaboration with operating elements, the CIO will ensure coordinated monitoring, review and evaluation of information resources and recommend remedial action, as necessary, to improve cost-effective and efficient operations.
Additionally, the CIO will provide guidance and direction to ensure information resource plans are comprehensively developed to support strategic Department missions, and are fully integrated one with the other, providing inter-bureau coordination, and recommend funding priorities with respect to acquisition, operation, maintenance, and improvement of information resources, (1FAM will have a new section in which the Office of the CIO is established ad the authority and responsibilities of the CIO are outlined.)
The Office of the CIO will have an oversight role and give guidance and direction to operating bureaus; it will not become and operating element of the Department, it is being structured as a staff office, working with the under secretary for management, and with a reporting relationship to the secretary. I anticipate the CIO will serve as a catalyst for a more substantial effort by all bureaus in planning information resources management activities. The CIO will seek to ensure that individual bureau plans complement each other and are clearly directed toward the achievement of established Department priorities. The CIO will, where Department-wide initiatives are required (as in the establishment of technical and operating standards to underpin bureau investments), ensure that appropriate planning is undertaken. In addition, the CIO will bring in outside advice, where appropriate.
The Bureau of Administration will continue to exercise operational IRM responsibilities. Its Information Management Office will continue, for example, to be responsible for managing the day-to-day operation of the Department's information infrastructure, including mainframe computers, the Washington Network backbone, and mail and pouch services; for providing technical and operational expertise to strengthen Department-wide telecommunications network planning, introducing new services, improving existing services, and assisting in IRM capital budgeting studies and risk analyses.
Finally, for the Office of the CIO to reach its full potential as an advisor to the secretary and me, and to be able to manage the urgent and necessary process of change, the SMI stressed, I urge each of you to share with the CIO your ideas about customer needs (yours and the public's), and your thoughts on how we can use information technology to underpin better ways of doing business.