Medicare gives $30M for senior counseling

April 11, 2007 at 5:00 PM
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WASHINGTON, April 11 (UPI) -- Medicare will distribute $30 million to states for beneficiary assistance programs, the U.S. agency said Wednesday.

The funds, based on each state's Medicare population, will be distributed by the State Health Insurance Assistance Programs.

SHIPs will provide counseling to beneficiaries about Medicare coverage options like Medicare Advantage, Medigap and long-term care insurance. They will also continue their efforts to counsel seniors about the Part D prescription drug benefit, launched last year.

In the past, some critics have said the SHIPs, which rely heavily on partnerships with local volunteer organizations, have been underfunded, given their critical role.

However, Leslie Norwalk, acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said in a statement, "CMS continues to value the important role that SHIPs play in educating beneficiaries about Medicare," Norwalk said. "We have more than doubled our funding to SHIPs since 2003."

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