The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) today announced the first installment of funding to the New York State Health Insurance Information Counseling and Assistance Program (HIICAP) to help Medicare beneficiaries in New York receive information and counseling about their health care choices. These grants are available to the 54 State Health Insurance Assistance organizations in the United States and its territories for the funding year that runs from April 1, 2011, through March 31, 2012.
HIICAP will receive $2.6 million, part of the nearly $46.5 million being distributed to SHIPs today as part of the total $50 million that is available to SHIPs in 2011 for direct grants and support contracts. Performance awards will be distributed to SHIPs in September.
"With these funds, SHIPs will provide counseling to beneficiaries encouraging them to use the new annual wellness visit and other preventive services that the Affordable Care Act provides at no cost to beneficiaries," said CMS Administrator Donald Berwick, M.D. "SHIP educational services also help beneficiaries to identify and report suspected Medicare fraud, enhancing the anti-fraud tools provided by the Affordable Care Act."
SHIPs are expected to increase their efforts to provide outreach and assistance to current and newly eligible Medicare beneficiaries and their caregivers, reach people who are most likely eligible for Medicare's low-income subsidy and may be able to benefit from lower prescription drug costs, beneficiaries with disabilities, and diverse racial and ethnic groups, particularly those individuals with limited English proficiency.
Teresa NiÃ±o, director of CMS' Office of External Affairs and Beneficiary Services said, "We all know that early detection and preventive services are an investment in our health. Now, with the Affordable Care Act, we're supporting that knowledge by making healthcare accessible to those who are often less likely to receive preventive care. SHIPs and other CMS partners with grassroots connections will use creative methods to inform Medicare beneficiaries, their families and trusted representatives about these services."
Greg Olsen, Acting Director of the New York State Office for the Aging stated, " These additional funds will help us enhance the already outstanding local programs across the state that help older New Yorkers navigate the difficult choices they have to make in regards to their health insurance and other Medicare benefits. The State Office for the Aging looks forward to working with our local program coordinators and volunteers to continue to bring accurate and timely information to New Yorkers who benefit for the services provided through the HIICAP program."
CMS will continue to support the SHIPs with training and technical assistance. This will help to ensure that the community networks remain fully capable of accessing and using CMS' 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) telephone information line and regional office resources, as well as the online tools at Medicare and SHIPtalk to provide assistance to Medicare beneficiaries.