The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) today honored outstanding work by individuals, private organizations and government agencies across the nation for their efforts to help ensure Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries receive high-quality health care, as well as outstanding customer service.
The individual and group award winners were presented at CMS’ 2003 National Customer Service Conference in Scottsdale, Ariz. The honorees received the Beneficiary Services Certificate of Merit, awarded to volunteers, health professionals, organizations or government agencies that demonstrate exceptional commitment to assisting beneficiaries.
"I congratulate these individuals and organizations who have devoted many hours to serving and educating Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries throughout the nation," CMS Administrator Tom Scully said. "They represent hundreds of others who also are dedicated to enhancing the lives of these beneficiaries through the services they provide."
The 33 Certificate of Merit winners are located in 24 states, ranging from Manhattan and the Bronx in New York City to rural areas of Alaska and the state of Washington. Among the recipients are state agencies in Alaska, Illinois, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island. Other winners include Catholic Charities of Jackson, Miss., the publisher of a newspaper for seniors in the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area, and the news and public affairs director of a small Iowa radio station. (The list of winners is attached.)
CMS also selected the Pennsylvania Department of Aging’s State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) for exemplary customer service. SHIPs, which get federal funds, give free health insurance counseling and assistance to Medicare beneficiaries. The Pennsylvania program, called APPRISE SHIP, has been a leader in SHIP management, operations and volunteer participation, and has provided guidance to other SHIPs. It also has developed outreach programs that benefit all segments of Pennsylvania’s Medicare population.
In addition, CMS gave eight awards to Medicare contractors for exemplary customer service. The eight winners are:
Medicare Part A contractor: Riverbend Government Benefits Administrator, Chattanooga, Tenn.;
Medicare Part B contractor: AdminaStar Federal, Indianapolis, Ind.;
Durable Medical Equipment Regional Carrier (DMERC): CIGNA Medicare, Nashville, Tenn.;
Regional Home Health Intermediary: Palmetto Government Benefits Administrator, Columbia, S.C.;
Quality Improvement Organization: Rhode Island Quality Partners, Providence, R.I.;
Medical Director for AdminaStar Federal: Adrian Oleck, M.D.
Managed care organization in an urban setting: Preferred Care, Rochester, N.Y.
Managed care organization in a rural setting: Gundersen Lutheran Health Plan, La Crosse, Wis.
(These are the Certificate of Merit winners as listed by the 10 CMS regions)
Region I – Boston
Maine - Martin Sabol, director, health care coverage, Maine Primary Care Association, Augusta, Maine. For vision and leadership in designing and implementing education and outreach programs so Medicare, Medicaid, and State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) beneficiaries can understand, access and use their benefits.
New Hampshire – New England Rural Health Round Table, an alliance of health care providers in the New England states in Concord, N.H. For working with CMS to inform providers in rural communities about Medicare and Medicaid issues.
Rhode Island - William Doyle, director, State Health Insurance Program (SHIP), Rhode Island Department of Elderly Affairs, Cranston, R.I. For consistent and outstanding work providing services to beneficiaries in Rhode Island and for excellence in training and empowering SHIP volunteers.
Region II – New York
New York State – Ann Krull, director, Bureau of Benefits and Health Insurance, New York State Office for Aging, Albany, N.Y. For exemplary efforts that led to the development of a program that provides assistance and education to beneficiaries.
New Jersey – Deborah Breslin, project director, New Jersey State Health Insurance Assistance Program, Department of Health and Senior Services, Trenton, N.J. For creative development and use of educational materials to improve understanding of Medicare to assist beneficiaries in securing the full range of program benefits.
Alessandra Taverna, M.B.A., manager-network development and marketing for Contract Management Organization, a subsidiary of Montefiore Medical Center. For development of innovative outreach initiatives to educate Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries in the medical center’s home community in the Bronx, N.Y., on access to health care information.
Patricia Ulloa, One Stop Senior Services, Manhattan, New York City – For a beneficiary advocacy program that serves seniors in Harlem with coordinated services including eligibility for Medicare and Medicaid.
Region III - Philadelphia
Julie Leonard and Patsy Schwenk, beneficiary outreach coordinators for West Virginia (Region III) and Ohio (Region V), Palmetto Government Benefits Administrators, Columbus, Ohio. For serving Medicare beneficiaries in West Virginia and Ohio and developing some innovative partnerships, including those with major and minor league baseball teams and hospitals. From September-December 2002, they conducted 51 events in the two states reaching more than 1.5 million people.
Virginia – Project Immunize Virginia, Health Promotion/Disease Prevention, Center for Pediatric Research, Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters, Eastern Virginia Medical School, Norfolk, Va. For the Vaccinate and Vote campaign in 2002 that successfully demonstrated Project Immunize Virginia’s dedication to its mission of flu shots for beneficiaries in collaboration with sponsors and volunteers.
Region IV - Atlanta
Kentucky – Henry Hood, program director, Developmental Dentistry Program, Underwood and Lee Clinic, Louisville, Ky. For Dr. Hood, a dentist, developing a program in collaboration with the University of Louisville for providing general and specialized dentistry to people with developmental disabilities living in the community.
Mississippi – Sister Donna Gunn, director of parish social ministry, Catholic Charities of Jackson, Miss. For her work to improve Medicaid and SCHIP outreach and enrollment efforts to ensure the children of Mississippi have access to quality health care.
South Carolina – Isabel Law, R.N., Breast Health Patient Coordinator, South Carolina Comprehensive Breast Center, Palmetto Health Alliance, Columbia, S.C. For extraordinary dedication to educating South Carolina’s Medicare population and their families about breast cancer and the importance of mammography.
Region V – Chicago
(Patsy Schwenk, beneficiary coordinator in Ohio, see Region III)
Illinois – Pat Curtis, project director, Health Benefits for Workers with Disabilities, Illinois Department of Public Aid, Springfield, Ill. For service in the pursuit of comprehensive health benefits for Illinois workers with disabilities. The health benefits program for disabled workers is funded through a CMS-administered Medicaid Infrastructure Grant.
Minnesota – Arrowhead Area Agency on Aging SHIP Program, Arrowhead Regional Development Commission, Duluth, Minn. For providing valuable Medicare information in 2002 to beneficiaries, primarily retirees from LTV Steel Corp. in northern Minnesota, during the company’s bankruptcy proceedings.
Minnesota – Wisdom Steps, a preventive health program that is a partnership between Native American elders in Minnesota and the Minnesota Board on Aging, St. Paul, Minn. For service and support to the Native American elders in the area of Medicare education.
Wisconsin – MetaStar Beneficiary Liaison Committee, Madison, Wis. The committee is an advisory group to MetaStar, Wisconsin’s Quality Improvement Organization (QIO), which checks on the care given to Medicare patients. The award was given for publishing a booklet on health insurance choices for Wisconsin’s disabled Medicare beneficiaries.
Region VI - Dallas
Louisiana – Partners in Senior Health Program, Community Development Department, Louisiana Health Care Review Inc., Baton Rouge, La. For demonstrating a commitment to cultivating innovative community partnerships by using grass roots resources to promote health and wellness in their communities.
Oklahoma – Oklahoma Foundation for Medical Quality, Oklahoma City, Okla. For identifying and addressing unique opportunities for mammography awareness and promotion among the state’s diverse populations.
Texas – Paul Zobisch, publisher and general manager of the Senior News Source, a monthly newspaper for senior citizens and caregivers in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. For bringing together hundreds of organizations to serve the needs of the area’s elderly, leading organizations to new and innovative ways of serving these citizens, and linking people with resources quickly and efficiently.
Region VII – Kansas City
Iowa – Jim Turbis, news and public affairs director of radio station KWBG in Boone, Iowa. For his efforts to keep his station’s listeners in a rural area educated on Medicare through monthly interviews with CMS outreach staff on his call-in health show.
Iowa – Beryl Clotfelter, volunteer counselor, Iowa Senior Health Insurance Information Program, Grinnell, Iowa. For writing a newspaper column for more than six years on Medicare in a question-and-answer format, helping beneficiaries, caregivers and other readers of the Grinnell Herald-Register understand Medicare and health insurance.
Kansas – Ascension Hernandez, chair of the Latino Leadership Institute, Shawnee, Kan. For a partnership effort with CMS to reach and educate the Kansas City Latino community about Medicare and Medicaid.
Kansas – Surgical Infection Prevention Project Team (eight members), Via Christi Regional Medical Center, Wichita, Kan. For a quality improvement project that has made extraordinary efforts to reduce and prevent surgical infections in Via Christi Regional Medical Center.
Region VIII – Denver
Colorado – Antonio Prado-Gutierrez, executive director, Colorado Association of Family Practice Residencies, Aurora, Colo. For his efforts to serve Medicare beneficiaries by addressing the physician access issue in Colorado.
Colorado – Hal Prink, Medicare patient advocate, Highlands Ranch, Colo. For his outstanding service to Medicare beneficiaries in need in the Denver area.
Region IX – San Francisco
California – Thordie Ashley, volunteer community outreach worker, Alameda, Calif. For her successful assistance, counseling and training on behalf of Medicare beneficiaries and their families in the Oakland, Calif. area.
California – Lena Berlove Lynch, community liaison manager, CalOptima, Orange, Calif. In recognition of the CalOptima Community Liaison Program for its dedication and community collaboration in providing members with access to quality health care services.
California – David J. Shaw, M.D., M.B.A., medical director, Scripps Mercy Hospital, San Diego, Calif. For his leadership, and devotion to quality care for all Scripps patients, including Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries.
Hawaii – Partners in Care, chairperson Bill Hanrahan, Honolulu, Hawaii. Partners in Care is a partnership of 73 organizations that provide services to the homeless. The award is for Partners in Care leadership in the community and outreach efforts, including services covered by Medicaid and Medicare, to the homeless on the island of Oahu.
Region X – Seattle
Alaska – Denali KidCare Program, State of Alaska, Division of Medical Assistance, Department of Health and Social Services, Juneau, Alaska. For innovations in outreach by the Denali KidCare Program, Alaska’s State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), and its dedication to providing health care coverage to the low-income population in Anchorage, Fairbanks and remote areas of rural Alaska.
Washington – Ethel Waters, Statewide Health Insurance Benefits Advisor (SHIBA) Volunteer, Island Senior Services, Langley, Wash. For more than two decades of service to the people of Whidbey Island, Wash., including information about Medicare, Medicaid and SCHIP and writing a monthly column on health insurance issues for a local seniors newspaper.
Washington – Lola Ellestad, SHIBA Volunteer, Skagit County Community Action Agency, Mount Vernon, Wash. For providing residents of rural Skagit County with valuable information and resources about Medicare since the program began in 1966