MANAGED CARE PLAN EXPANDS TO INCLUDE MEDICARE BENEFICIARIES IN TWO COUNTIES IN CENTRAL N.Y. STATE
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has approved a request by UnitedHealthcare of New York to expand managed care coverage to Medicare beneficiaries in two counties in central New York State.
UnitedHealthcare of New York, based in New York City, can begin serving beneficiaries on July 1, 2003, in Oneida and Onondaga counties, including the cities of Syracuse and Utica. Medicare beneficiaries can sign up for the plan during the current Medicare+Choice open enrollment. About 120,000 beneficiaries live in the managed care organization's newly approved service area.
The company, which operates as UnitedHealthcare Medicare Complete, began in 1997 to serve beneficiaries throughout New York City.
“We are pleased UnitedHealthcare of New York decided to expand this health plan to include more Medicare beneficiaries in upstate New York in the Syracuse area," HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson said. "The reality is, Medicare should provide all seniors - no matter where they live - with better health insurance options, including prescription drug coverage and preventive care. The President's goals for strengthening and modernizing Medicare will move us closer to that goal."
UnitedHealthcare of New York is a subsidiary of UnitedHealth Group, based in Minnetonka, Minn. The plan will give another health care choice to Medicare beneficiaries in the Syracuse area. No Medicare+Choice plans are currently available in Oneida and Onondaga counties.
"We want to make sure all Medicare beneficiaries, whether in a Medicare+Choice plan or fee-for-service, are receiving the highest quality health care," CMS Administrator Tom Scully said. "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."
Medicare+Choice 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.
Congress created Medicare+Choice in the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 to expand the types of health care options available to Medicare beneficiaries, who in addition can now receive new preventive benefits and patient protections. There also is 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.