The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) today announced it is making $45 million in direct grants and support contracts available for State Health Insurance Assistance Programs (SHIP). The Fiscal Year (FY) 2010 Grants are continuation funds available to 54 existing SHIP organizations in the United States and its territories.
States’ responses to this grant announcement are due to CMS by February 16, 2010, and funds will be awarded in April 2010. The grant year runs from April 1, 2010 to March 31, 2011. SHIPs are eligible to receive base grant and supplemental funding, and performance-based awards from CMS.
These SHIP grants will strengthen the capabilities of States and US territories to support community-based, grassroots networks that provide personalized, one-on-one counseling, advocacy, education and outreach to assist people with Medicare with information, counseling and prescription drug and health plan enrollment. In FY 2009, SHIPs reached nearly 5.4 million people using local resources and other CMS information channels, including 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) and www.medicare.gov.
“In these difficult economic times, States are seeking opportunities to expand senior advocacy funding and these grants enable them to better serve their senior populations, including those who are new to Medicare, and their families and caregivers” said Charlene Frizzera, acting CMS Administrator. “As a key partner and liaison to these populations, SHIPs help ensure ongoing access to affordable health care and protect those individuals in greatest need.”
In 2010, CMS and SHIPs will be increasing their outreach efforts to target more Medicare beneficiaries who have limited or low incomes and may be eligible for “extra help” with costs for Medicare’s prescription drug coverage. Each SHIP will target outreach efforts to focus on certain beneficiary groups that are not taking full advantage of all of their Medicare benefits in general, and preventive services in particular. SHIPs will also focus on Medicare beneficiaries with disabilities, especially those from diverse racial and ethnic groups, and individuals with limited English proficiency
During the 2010 grant period, CMS will use several new approaches to measure each SHIP’s delivery of services, based on recommendations developed over a two-year period through a collaborative workgroup of SHIP Directors, external partners, and CMS representatives. These new performance measures were designed to capture program attributes for better monitoring and assessment by SHIPs and CMS.
Use of a new benchmarking tool will improve comparison methodologies by reviewing similar geographic areas across SHIP networks, particularly at sub-State levels and allow for a more thorough review of SHIP performance.
State grantees have built the SHIP network nationwide to include over 1,300 local sponsoring organizations supporting over 12,000 counselors (mostly volunteers) and staff. CMS’ ongoing support of SHIPs includes training and technical assistance to ensure that their community networks are accessible to assist people with Medicare benefits, and their operations remain fully capable of utilizing CMS’ toll-free and bilingual customer service telephone operations; regional office resources; and web-based tools included on www.medicare.gov and www.SHIPtalk.org