MANAGED CARE PLAN EXPANDS TO INCLUDE MEDICARE BENEFICIARIES IN COWLITZ COUNTY, WASH
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has approved a request by PacifiCare of Washington Inc. to expand managed care coverage to Medicare beneficiaries in Cowlitz County in southwestern Washington state.
PacifiCare of Washington will begin serving beneficiaries on June 1 in Cowlitz County . Medicare beneficiaries can sign up for the plan during the current open enrollment for Medicare Advantage plans. About 16,500 beneficiaries live in the county.
"We are pleased PacifiCare of Washington decided to expand this health plan to include Medicare beneficiaries in Cowlitz County in Washington ,” HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt said. "Under the Medicare reform law signed by President Bush, Medicare will provide all seniors - no matter where they live - with better health insurance options, including prescription drug coverage and preventive care. The law is achieving the President's goals of strengthening and modernizing Medicare.”
PacifiCare of Washington, which operates as Secure Horizons, is a subsidiary of PacifiCare Health Systems Inc., based in Cypress , Calif. , which began serving Medicare beneficiaries in Washington state nearly 20 years ago. The company currently operates in the counties of King including the city of Seattle , Lewis, Pierce, Thurston, Snohomish, Clark and part of Island .
The plan will give another health care choice to beneficiaries living in Cowlitz County . The Medicare Advantage plans currently operating in the county are Sterling Private Fee-for-Service and Group Health Cooperative.
“We want to make sure all Medicare beneficiaries, whether in a Medicare Advantage plan or fee-for-service, are receiving the highest quality health care," said CMS Administrator Mark McClellan, M.D., Ph.D. "We are doing more to guarantee that beneficiaries understand the Medicare coverage options available to them. We also are reminding beneficiaries of the need to work closely with the doctors and other health care providers that give them medical care."
Since Dec. 8, 2003, when President Bush signed the Medicare Modernization Act into law, CMS has approved 68 new contracts with Medicare health plans and 91 service area expansions. There are currently 210 applications pending for new contracts and 91 service area expansions pending.
Medicare Advantage HMOs and fee-for-service plans are available where private companies choose to offer them. Currently, about 4.6 million Medicare beneficiaries -- out of a total of about 40 million aged and disabled Americans – have enrolled in Medicare
HMOs. Original fee-for-service Medicare, currently chosen by more than 35 million beneficiaries, is available to all beneficiaries.
Medicare has a far-reaching consumer information program that includes a national toll-free phone number -- 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) or TTY/TDD, at 877-486-2048 -- an Internet site -- www.medicare.gov -- and a coalition of more than 200 national and local organizations to provide seniors more information.