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Medicare changes discussed

"The federal government never asks you for your Medicare number or Social Security number "that is as private as your credit card information " make sure you don't give it to anyone," said Torres.

An important element reason for Torres' visit was to discuss changes brought by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that passed in March.

"The matter that the Patient Bill of Rights was passed in September of this year as part of the Affordable Health Care Act is historic, because now, for the first time in the history of our nation, children can no longer be denied coverage because of a preexisting condition," said Torres. "We can guarantee that every child below the age of 19 can get coverage no matter what their health status is."

People will also have the right to go to the emergency room of their choice, even if it is out of the person's network.

With the national push toward reforming health care, Medicare has seen positive changes, said Torres.

"Not only are your benefits going to stay, but they have been strengthened," said Torres to seniors in attendance about Medicare. "The Medicare Trust Fund has also been extended (until 2029), so we want to make sure that Medicare is here for you but also for the next generation."

Medicare recipients will be able to get preventative care for free too, which he said will also help keep down costs through regular check-ups with doctors and promoting healthy lifestyles.

"Important changes are already taking place and changes that really many of us have been fighting for years," said Torres.

This was Torres' first time in Schenectady. He covers New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

"It has been a great honor traveling the region to learn about the needs of the region, which is very diverse," said Torres. "Something that is happening in Schenectady might not be the same thing as something that this happening in Trenton, N.J."

For information about Medicare visit the program's website at www.Medicare.gov, or call Medicare's help line at 1-800-633-4227. One-on-one benefits counseling is available too through the State Health Insurance Assistance Program by calling 1-800-701-0501.""

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