Monthly Archives: October 2014

Did You Fail To Register To Vote?

In North Carolina, you can no longer register to vote on the same day that you vote.  That means if you were not registered to vote by October 10 you will not be allowed to vote in the November 4th election. If you have not voted in recent elections, or you have moved or changed your name, you must register or update your registration with an Official Registration Form to ensure you are able to vote in the next election.

  • To check your voter registration status go to
  • If you are not registered to vote, go to to fill out the online registration form. If you can’t access the form online you can get a copy from the County Board of Elections, Department of Motor Vehicles, Social Services or Employment Security Commission.
  • Mail your application (with your original signature, not a copy) to your County Board of Elections. To find your local County Board of Elections go to and click on your county of residence.
  • 1-2 weeks after mailing in your application you should receive a voter registration card. If you don’t receive it, call your local County Board of Elections.

For the next election, don’t wait until the last minute to be sure you are properly registered and remember that in 2016 you must produce a photo ID. Acceptable forms of photo ID in 2016 will be:

  • N.C. driver’s license, learner’s permit or provisional license
  • N.C. special ID card for non-drivers
  • U.S. passport
  • U.S. military or veterans ID
  • Tribal card from federally or state recognized tribe
  • Out-of-state driver’s license (only valid if voter registration occurred within 90 days of the election)

All IDs must not be expired when voting in 2016, except for voters over age 70 who will be able to present an acceptable, expired ID so long as it was unexpired on the voter’s 70th birthday. Military and veterans’ IDs will also be acceptable even if they have expired.

Can A Gout Attack Be Triggered By Workplace Trauma?

Gout is a form of arthritis characterized by sudden, severe attacks of pain, redness and tenderness in joints. Gout occurs when sharp, needle-like urate crystals, formed from high levels of uric acid in the blood, accumulate in a joint, causing inflammation, swelling and intense pain. Uric acid is found naturally in the body, as well as in certain foods, and sometimes the body either produces too much uric acid or the kidneys do not filter enough uric acid out of the blood, leading to a gout attack.

While obesity, poor diet and lack of exercise are the most common causes of gout, there are other interesting potential causes as well. According to Lawrence Brent, MD, head of the division of rheumatology at Albert Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia, a gout attack can be triggered by injury. In a 2010 article on the subject, Dr. Brent wrote that, “Injury doesn’t have to be severe. Just twisting your ankle or foot might trigger an attack of gout.”  This appears to be because urate crystals form more readily in an injured joint, regardless of whether the injury was recent or not.  Even an older injury that has resulted in osteoarthritis can be a trigger for gout attacks. There may also be a correlation between medications that are often taken for injury or arthritis and a gout attack, as aspirin, narcotics and diuretics can can cause a rise in uric acid levels in the blood and result in a gout attack.

For more information on the causes of gout, go to

Beware of Medicare Scams

            It’s open enrollment season for Medicare, and that means increased risk of scams. Medicare beneficiaries can make changes to their policies from October 15 to December 7. So during this time, be on the lookout for identity thieves, calling to get your information by posing as government agents. Don’t answer any calls or give any information to anyone claiming they need to “verify” your Medicare number (which is usually the same as your Social Security number) in order to issue you a new card. There are no actual plans to issue new Medicare cards and “Medicare will never call you and ask for your personal information, such as your Medicare number, over the phone. Never,” says CMS spokesman Aaron Albright.

             Take precautions. As a general rule, never give out your account numbers. Medicare, Bank Account or otherwise. Additionally, monitor your records carefully for unusual activity, including your Medicare Summary Notice that you should receive quarterly. Don’t fall for offers of free supplies in exchange for your credit card number for shipping charges.

             Be careful during this open enrollment season through December 7 and be on the lookout for scammers.

 For more information, check out the source of this article by Sid Kirchheimer from AARP called “Beware of the Fall Frauds” located at

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Are Uber Drivers Getting Their Tips?

A U.S. federal judge recently ruled that a ride-sharing service must face a lawsuit alleging that the company has been pocketing tips meant for the drivers (Detroit Free Press, September 19, 2014). Uber Technologies is a smartphone-summoned car service based in San Francisco that has been charging a 20% surcharge on rides. Uber was founded in 2009 and is currently in 35 countries and more than 100 cities. It is valued at $18.2 billion and is the most valued ventured-back company in the world.

Filed in January, the class-action suit alleges that Uber has been keeping a “substantial portion” of the gratuity as additional revenue rather than sharing with its drivers. This lawsuit also accuses the company of misleading customers about the true cost of its service. The complaint characterizes Uber’s practice as unfair and deceptive because Uber keeps most of the surcharge and it’s not a gratuity.

Uber, Lyft and other car-booking companies have been facing a growing number of legal challenges. In Chicago, cab drivers sued the city claiming that these smartphone-summoned services are not subject to the same regulations governing conventional taxi companies. In Connecticut, Uber and Lyft have also been accused of racketeering by taxi and livery operators who accuse the companies of preying on established businesses and cutting legal corners by partnering with affiliated drivers instead of owning cars. That way, these companies claim they are different from taxi dispatchers and shouldn’t be forced to comply with existing regulations, such as driver background checks and liability insurance.


Pricey Medical Billing Errors Can Cost Thousands: What You Can Do to Prevent it From Happening to You.

How frequently do you think you’ve been overcharged by a medical provider? According to medical bill expert and founder of Medical Recovery Services, Pat Palmer, your chances are pretty high. According to Ms. Palmer, eight out of ten hospital bills contain numerous overcharges. These inaccuracies can add thousands of dollars to your medical costs. However, by carefully reviewing your bills you can check for common errors and follow up with the provider to make sure they are removed from your bill.

Here are a few tips that were mentioned in a recent online article.

1.  Check for duplicate charges. This one is self-explanatory however, easiest to spot on an itemized bill. If a charge doesn’t make sense, call the provider and make them explain it to you in clear terms.

2.  Look out for canceled tests or procedures that were never performed. To spot these errors, keep a list of all tests ordered at the doctor’s office or hospital so you can compare to the bill.

3.  Be on the alert for “upcoding” of a medical charge. This is where the hospital inflates a diagnosis or charge to one that is more serious than the one you were actually seen/treated for. Upcoding is illegal and fraudulent.

 For more information check out the full article “8 Medical Bill Errors You Need to Watch For” and, if you think you may have been overcharged, also check out Medical Recovery Services webpage at They have advocates who can review your medical bills and provide you with advice. Also, check out the story in “Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us” to read about how others have struggled with hefty medical bills and what can be done to prevent it from happening to you.


US officials expected to announce Ebola screening at airports

Today’s post was shared by Gelman on Workplace Injuries and comes from

Federal officials are finalizing details on Ebola screening steps for travelers arriving at US airports, which may be announced in a few days and may resemble the kinds of questions that outbreak countries are asking departing passengers, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH, said today.

The risk of another travel-linked Ebola case, such as the one in Texas, can never be reduced to zero until West Africa’s outbreak is extinguished, he said at a media telebriefing today. But he said the CDC and other government agencies are taking a hard look at additional steps, focusing on ones that won’t hamstring the response process underway overseas.

The three main outbreak countries have so far screened about 36,000 people departing on airlines, with three fourths of them bound for destinations outside the United States. The CDC has trained airport screeners in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, which have flagged 77 people with fever and 3 people with other symptoms. As far as the CDC knows, none of the people with fever had Ebola, and most had malaria, a common illness in that part the world, Frieden said.

"I can assure you we will take additional steps, and the details will be worked out and announced in a few days," he added.

Senator suggests screening steps

US Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., issued a statement today saying he spoke with Frieden about tougher screening at US airports and is pleased that the CDC is preparing to…

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Workers Balk at Task Of Ebola Cleanup in Dallas

Today’s post was shared by Gelman on Workplace Injuries and comes from

Adequate safety is a major concern for health care workers treating infectious diseases. Today’s post is shared from

DALLAS — More than six months after an outbreak of Ebola began its rampage through West Africa, local and federal health officials have displayed an uneven and flawed response to the first case diagnosed in the United States.

In the latest indication, state and local authorities confirmed Thursday that a week after a Liberian man fell ill with Ebola in Dallas, and four days after he was placed in isolation at a hospital here, the apartment where he was staying with four other people had not been sanitized and the sheets and dirty towels he used while sick remained in the home. County officials visited the apartment without protection Wednesday night.

The officials said it had been difficult to find a contractor willing to enter the apartment to clean it and remove bedding and clothes, which they said had been bagged in plastic. They said they now had hired a firm that would do the work soon. The Texas health commissioner, Dr. David Lakey, told reporters during an afternoon news conference that officials had encountered “a little bit of hesitancy” in seeking a firm to clean the apartment.

The delay came amid reports that as many as 100 people could have had contact with the victim, Thomas E. Duncan. And it came a day after the hospital acknowledged it had misdiagnosed him when he first visited.

When Mr. Duncan, 42, was first…

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Watch Out for Online Fraud

AARP has advised its members to be careful as they use Internet services. For example, have you ever participated in the following online activities:

  1. Clicked on a pop-up ad?
  2. Opened an email from someone you didn’t know?
  3. Signed up for a free trial offer?
  4. Sold some merchandise in an auction?
  5. Sent funds through an Internet money transfer service?
  6. Posted your home address, phone number, vacation plans, names of children or grandkids on social media?

If so, you are more likely to be duped by a scam. AARP Washington state director Doug Shadel directed an AARP Fraud Watch Network survey of almost 12,000 Internet users to discern the differences between online fraud victims and nonvictims. According to the survey results, age does not play a factor. What does matter is engaging in the online activities above. The results also showed that victims often recently experienced a stressful event (such as a job loss or illness) and scammers target emotionally vulnerable people because it is easier to force them into making bad choices. (AARP Bulletin, March 2014)