MEDICARE ANNOUNCES ADDITIONAL FUNDING FOR HEALTH INSURANCE COUNSELING PROGRAMS FOR 2008
$15 MILLION TO CONTINUE HELPING BENEFICIARIES LEARN ABOUT MEDICARE
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) today announced that an additional $15 million will be distributed to State Health Insurance Assistance Programs (SHIPs) to help people with Medicare get more information about their health care choices.
The $15 million is the second of three installments of SHIP funding in 2008 and will be distributed in June. CMS will distribute over $50 million to the nation’s SHIPs in 2008; of that, $36 million was distributed on April 1 and an additional $1.5 million will be distributed in performance-based awards to SHIPs in September. This funding represents a $20 million increase in SHIP funding over fiscal year 2007.
“State health insurance assistance programs fill an important role in providing information and support to people with Medicare where they live,” said CMS Acting Administrator Kerry Weems. “In addition to answering beneficiaries’ questions about Medicare, this year’s funding should further the SHIPs’ efforts to reach those people who are most likely eligible for extra help paying the costs of Medicare prescription drug coverage, and assist them in applying for extra help.”
SHIPs are state-based programs that use community-based networks to provide Medicare beneficiaries with local, personalized assistance on a wide variety of Medicare and health insurance topics. A significant accomplishment of the SHIPs has been their success in helping to educate many of the nation’s 44 million Medicare beneficiaries about Medicare as well as their prescription drug coverage options so that they can make a choice about their health care that best meets their needs.
CMS expects the SHIPs to use the increased 2008 funding to conduct community-based programs targeted at reaching more beneficiaries who are unable to access other sources of information such as the CMS online tools at www.medicare.gov.
SHIPs will continue their outreach and assistance to currently and newly eligible Medicare beneficiaries and their caregivers, as well as reaching out to beneficiaries with limited incomes who may be eligible for the extra help with prescription drug costs.
CMS will continue to support the SHIPs in 54 States and territories with training and technical assistance. This will help to ensure that the community networks remain fully capable of accessing and using all of CMS’ regional office resources, as well as the online tools at www.medicare.gov to provide assistance to beneficiaries.
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