HHS Helps Medicare Beneficiaries Access Their Benefits
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius today released $25 million in grants to help older people, individuals with disabilities and their caregivers apply for special assistance through Medicare, and an additional $5 million for a national resource center to support these important efforts.
These grants, made possible by the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008 (MIPPA), will provide valuable support at the state and community levels for organizations involved in reaching and providing assistance to people likely to be eligible for the Low-Income Subsidy program (LIS), Medicare Savings Program (MSP), the Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Program and in helping beneficiaries to apply for benefits. This initiative also includes special targeting efforts to rural areas of the country and to Native American elders.
“Medicare is essential to our effort to provide high-quality health care to all Americans,” said Secretary Sebelius. “Many people could be eligible for extra help through Medicare and not even know it. We know that beneficiaries with the greatest needs are often the most difficult to reach,” said Secretary Sebelius. “Through these new collaborations at the federal, state and local levels, we will better be able to target and provide one-on-one assistance to our most vulnerable citizens.”
This MIPPA funding, which is jointly administered by HHS’ Administration on Aging (AoA) and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), is being awarded to State Health Insurance Assistance Programs (SHIPs), State Agencies on Aging, Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs), Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRCs), Native Americans Tribal Organizations and local communities to help seniors, caregivers and those with disabilities on Medicare. These organizations are important members of HHS’ national network of state, tribal and community-based organizations that assist seniors, caregivers and those with disabilities with health benefits information and information on other services, and enable them to remain independent and living in their communities as long as possible.
“HHS is working hard to reach people who are unaware, unsure or unable to apply for assistance for the benefits they deserve,” said Charlene Frizzera, acting administrator for CMS. “Through this collaboration between AoA and CMS, state and community-based organizations will be able to work in partnership and make maximum use of these federal funds to help seniors and those with disabilities on Medicare.” CMS and AoA have worked closely together on this and other outreach efforts to assist older Americans, those with disabilities and their families to access important benefits and services.
“MIPPA presents a new opportunity to build on the successful partnership between AoA and CMS through the Medicare Part D outreach efforts, our Chronic Disease Self–Management Programs, ADRCs, and the National Clearinghouse for Long-Term Care Information,” said Edwin L. Walker, acting Assistant Secretary for Aging. “This new effort allows us to team up again so that we can leverage federal, state and local resources to deliver health and long-term care services and information to those who need it most.”
The National Center for Benefits Outreach and Enrollment, administered by the National Council on Aging (NCOA), will help inform beneficiaries about benefits available under federal and state programs, utilize cost-effective strategies to find older individuals with the greatest economic need, coordinate state and local efforts by providing a best practice clearinghouse, data collection, training and technical assistance.