Press Release             

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Paul Precht
Director of Policy and Communications
202-637-0961

Akiko Takano
Deputy Director of Communications
212-204-6214

January 28, 2010

New York State Health Foundation Names Medicare Rights Center Project as One of Its Ten “Best of 2009”

New York, NY—The New York State Health Foundation has named its grant to the Medicare Rights Center as one of its ten “strongest achievements” in its “Best of 2009” Annual Report.

With funding from the New York State Health Foundation, Medicare Rights partnered with the Benefits Data Trust and New York State’s Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage (EPIC) program to identify and enroll older New Yorkers in programs that help them with their Medicare-related expenses. These programs, the Medicare Savings Programs (MSPs) and the Medicare Part D Low-Income Subsidy program (LIS, also known as “Extra Help”), are designed to help people with limited incomes get the health care and medications they need, but are greatly underutilized by those who might benefit from them.

“There are many reasons why enrollment in MSPs and Extra Help are consistently low, but two of the biggest reasons are that people don’t know about them, and the enrollment process is too complex,” said Joe Baker, president of the Medicare Rights Center. “Through this grant from the New York State Health Foundation, we and our partners were able to systematically address these two problems while developing a model that could be adopted by other states.”

In the first phase of the grant, a six-month period from April 1 through September 30 in 2009, Medicare Rights, partnering with the Benefits Data Trust, enrolled 3,400 people in MSPs and LIS, which saved them more than $17 million. The enrollment effort also produced savings of roughly $5 million for New York State’s EPIC program, because the federally funded LIS picks up a portion of the drug costs for those who have both LIS and EPIC.

The Foundation has awarded Medicare Rights a follow-up grant to continue its collaboration with Benefits Data Trust to reach more qualified New Yorkers who are still not enrolled in these programs, and to ensure that those who are enrolled maintain their benefits. The second phase of the grant covers a 12-month period through September 30, 2010. Further, New York State, through a new Enrollment Center and through outreach efforts by EPIC, is working to sustain the enrollment drive beyond the grant period.

“This project has been and continues to be rewarding,” said Baker. “Not only do we have the satisfaction of helping people enroll in programs that can greatly improve their health and well-being, but we are also sharing the lessons we have learned from this project with other states, to help even more people benefit from the MSP and LIS programs.”

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Medicare Rights Center is a national, nonprofit consumer service organization that works to ensure access to affordable health care for older adults and people with disabilities through counseling and advocacy, educational programs, and public policy initiatives.

 

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