Medicare Announces Funding for SHIPs

Nearly $36 million in funding is being distributed to the 54 State Health Insurance Assistance Programs (SHIPs) to help people with Medicare get more information about their health care choices.

The $35.8 million in funding is the first installment of federal grant funds provided to SHIPs by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) for the grant year beginning April 1, 2009, and ending March 31, 2010. An additional $1.5 million in performance-based funding will be awarded in September 2009. 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.

“State Health Insurance Assistance Programs serve an important role in providing information and support to people with Medicare where they live,” Charlene Frizzera, CMS acting administrator, said in a news release. “These funds help ensure SHIPs continue their work with state and local governments, community-based organizations and others to meet the needs, beyond health care, of our Medicare beneficiaries.”

CMS expects the SHIPs to use the 2009 funding to conduct targeted community-based outreach to people with Medicare who may be unable to access other sources of information. SHIPs will also provide outreach and assistance to current and newly eligible Medicare beneficiaries and their caregivers, with a special emphasis on reaching people who will most likely be eligible for Medicare’s low-income subsidy if they enroll in Medicare prescription drug coverage.

CMS will continue to support the quality of services provided by SHIPs through training, technical assistance, the SHIP Resource Center, and the online tools to help people with Medicare.

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