As I travel around the 10th Senate District, visiting with residents, I often hear of frustration with the difficulty in accessing information about Wisconsin and state programs. While technology advancements make it easier to access information online, these resources are often difficult to utilize for those without computers or reliable Internet service. This column seeks to provide some helpful information on a number of state programs that are available to residents.
The Department of Health Services (DHS) has recently announced a move to streamline the Board of Aging and Long Term Care helpline with the Medicare Part D helpline. Prior to this move, when seniors called in with questions relating to Medicare Part D, they would generally be referred to a different number often times causing confusion. By combining these resources, the Department intends to provide seniors with improved access to counselors and overall better customer service. Seniors can access this helpline at 800-242-1060.
In addition to this newly announced helpline, state agencies provide a number of resources and programs for seniors. Another program offered by DHS is SeniorCare, which provides eligible seniors with affordable prescription drug coverage. Since its creation in 2001, SeniorCare has been a popular program due to a number of factors. When compared to Medicare Part D, SeniorCare is easier and more affordable for Seniors as well as being more cost-effective for taxpayers. For more information on SeniorCare, please access the toll-free customer service line at 800-657-2038.
To provide state residents with assistance in regards to tax issues, the Department of Revenue provides a helpline to those with questions on state taxes at 608-266-2772. Inquiries on tax refunds can be made by calling toll-free 866-947-7363. In a related subject, state law also provides for an innovative program for seniors to help with their property tax bills while fostering community partnerships with schools. The Senior Tax Exchange Program (STEP) is an optional program for local school districts that provides property tax credits for seniors that volunteer at public schools. Please contact your local school to see if they are participating in this program or the Department of Public Instruction at 800-441-4563 for more information.
Another issue that citizens frequently contact me on is consumer protection. Unfortunately, those perpetrating scams often target seniors and other vulnerable populations. The Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) is responsible for identifying these scams and assisting those that have been the target of fraud, as well as providing information on avoiding fraudulent activity. DATCP’s consumer protection hotline is 800-422-7128. DATCP also administers the state’s No Call List and those interested in adding their landline and/or cell phone number to the state No Call List can call 866-966-2255. It is also important to remember that if you are on the No Call list, you will need to renew your number every two years.
I recently hosted Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) Secretary John Scocos to our area for listening sessions with veterans. DVA administers a number of programs to support our veterans, including transportation to VA medical appointments, assistance to needy veterans, and the Veterans and Surviving Spouses Property Tax Credit. Those interested in more information on veterans programs can call toll-free 800-947-8387 or contact your county veterans service officer.