Medicare is distributing an additional $6.3 million to State Health Insurance Assistance Programs to help beneficiaries get more information about their Medicare health and prescription-drug plan choices, the CMS announced.
This was the final allotment of $49.6 million in total grants made available to states in fiscal 2009 to fund programs that use community-based networks to provide Medicare beneficiaries with local assistance and counseling on various Medicare and health insurance topics.
“We know beneficiaries want personalized assistance as they make decisions about their healthcare options,” said Jonathan Blum, acting director of the Center for Drug and Health Plan Choices and director of the Center for Medicare Management, in a written statement. These health insurance assistance programs, or “SHIPs,” are one of the most important resources available to Medicare beneficiaries, Blum said.
SHIPs serve approximately 5.2 million beneficiaries, caregivers and advocates.
In addition to continuing their outreach and assistance to current and newly eligible Medicare beneficiaries and their caregivers, the CMS expects the SHIPs to reach out to beneficiaries with limited incomes who may be eligible for the “extra help” subsidy for Medicare prescription drug coverage.
“To accomplish this, funds may be used to recruit new volunteers to provide SHIP counseling, and provide them with training,” the CMS stated.
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