MANAGED CARE PLAN OFERED TO MEDICARE BENEFICIARIES IN THREE COUNTIES IN TAMPA BAY-SARASOTA, FLA. AREA
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) today approved a request by Universal Health Care Inc. to offer a managed care plan to Medicare beneficiaries in three counties in the Tampa Bay-Sarasota area on Florida's Gulf Coast.
Universal Health Care, based in St. Petersburg, Fla., can begin serving beneficiaries on July 1, 2003, in Hernando, Manatee and Sarasota counties, including the city of Sarasota. Medicare beneficiaries can sign up for the plan during the current Medicare+Choice open enrollment. About 200,000 beneficiaries live in the managed care organization's newly approved service area.
"We are pleased Universal Health Care has decided to offer this new option to Medicare beneficiaries in Hernando, Manatee and Sarasota counties," 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."
Universal Health Care, which operates as Medicare Masterpiece Plan, will give another health care option to beneficiaries living in the three counties. Beneficiaries in Hernando County already can choose among three Medicare+Choice plans - Wellcare Health Plan, United Health Plan and Quality Health Plans. No Medicare+Choice plans are currently offered to Medicare beneficiaries in Manatee and Sarasota 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.
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.