City of Lincoln
2007 Media Releases
Mayor Chris Beutler today presented the Mayor’s Award of Excellence for May to a team from the Lincoln Area Agency on Aging’s (LAAA) LIFE Office: Houston Doan and Bradley Kastl. The monthly award recognizes City employees who consistently provide exemplary service and work that demonstrates personal commitment to the City. The award was presented at the beginning of today’s City Council meeting.
The team was nominated by supervisors Joanne Farell, Joyce Kubicek, Delayne Peck and Jody Roeker in the categories of productivity and customer service for their work to enroll local seniors in Medicare D Prescription Drug Benefits.
Doan has worked at the LIFE office since 2000. Kastl was hired in 2005. They both have the title of Aging Specialist II, but they are better known as the LIFE Agency Financial Counselors. They provide financial counseling and Medicare information support services to clients age 60 and over in LAAA’s eight-county coverage area. They also provide financial and insurance support services and training for the agency staff.
Doan also runs Operation ABLE, an employment program for low-income seniors. He developed a computer skills program as part of that role. Kastl is responsible for the recruitment, training and supervision of the 28 volunteer staff members of the Senior Health Insurance Information Program.
When Congress passed the Medicare Modernization Act of 2004, it allocated little money to start the program at the local level. Older adults and their families were overwhelmed, confused and frustrated. At this point, Doan and Kastl took on the task of helping clients sign up for the prescription drug benefit. They felt a great responsibility to help low-income seniors with no family who needed assistance to enroll.
The first open enrollment period was in late 2005. The second open enrollment recently ended, and the next enrollment period will begin this fall. Based on national results, Nebraska has experienced the fourth highest enrollment of Medicare D eligible beneficiaries in the U.S. In our local area, more than 30,000 seniors signed up for a plan. The savings to seniors is estimated at $3.3 million – money older adults can use for other needs and money that can go back into our local economy.
Program changes and concerns continue, and the nominators said Doan and Kastl are the "go-to guys" for problems no one else can solve. To help educate the community on Medicare D benefits, the team has given 105 presentations to 2,500 seniors; taped many Channel 5 programs; and given local media interviews. They were instrumental in starting a statewide Medicare D Coalition, working with other agencies to set up and staff ten enrollment banks to help hundreds of families. They also organized radio and television call-in shows.
The nominators thanked Doan and Kastl for their leadership and staff support. They wrote, "They have been our leaders, teachers, and our inspiration providing compassionate, humane, face-to-face customer service to our elderly clients and their families."
Other categories in which employees can be nominated are loss prevention, safety and valor. All City employees are eligible for the Award of Excellence except for elected officials and some managers. Individuals or teams can be nominated by supervisors, peers, subordinates and the general public.
Nomination forms are available from department heads, employee bulletin boards or the Personnel Department, which oversees the awards program. All nominations are reviewed by the Mayor’s Award of Excellence Committee, which includes a representative with each union and a non-union representative appointed by the Mayor. Award winners receive a $100 U.S. savings bond, a day off with pay and a plaque. Monthly winners are eligible to receive the annual award, which comes with a $500 U.S. savings bond, two days off with pay and a plaque.