MANAGED CARE PLAN EXPANDS TO INCLUDE MORE MEDICARE BENEFICIARIES IN LOS ANGELES AND ORANGE COUNTIES, CALIF.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has approved a request by CareMore Insurance Services Inc. to expand its managed care plan to serve more Medicare beneficiaries in parts of Los Angeles and Orange counties in California.
CareMore Insurance Services, based in Cerritos, Calif., can begin on Jan. 1, 2004, to serve Medicare beneficiaries in more cities in the two counties. They include in Los Angeles County the cities of Burbank, Glendale, Inglewood, Pasadena, Torrance and sections of the city of Los Angeles, and the cities of Huntington Beach, Orange and Santa Ana in Orange County.
Medicare beneficiaries can sign up now for the plan and throughout the current Medicare+Choice open enrollment. About 521,000 beneficiaries live in the managed care organization's newly approved service area.
The plan began on March 1, 2003, to serve beneficiaries in some cities in the two counties, including Long Beach and sections of the city of Los Angeles in Los Angeles County, and Anaheim in Orange County.
"We are pleased CareMore Insurance Services decided to expand this health plan to include more Medicare beneficiaries in the Los Angeles 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."
"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."
CareMore Insurance Services, which does business as California Medical Advantage, began serving beneficiaries last March in 180 ZIP codes in southern Los Angeles and northern Orange counties. The expansion adds 204 ZIP codes in certain sections of the two counties to the plan’s current service area. It will give another health care option to beneficiaries living in the two counties. Beneficiaries in Los Angeles County already can choose among 10 Medicare+Choice plans and beneficiaries in Orange County have nine Medicare+Choice options.
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.