LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Stop Medicare/Medicaid Assistance Program cuts

Editor:

I am writing today to advise you about the possibility of a sharp cut to the State Health Insurance Program budget.

SHIP as it is referred to is the Federal program that provides funding to each state that allows volunteers and others to assist Medicare beneficiaries in many areas of health insurance, prescription drug plans, screening for several low income assistance programs and many other areas.

As many of you know, the Michigan SHIP is called the Medicare/Medicaid Assistance Program (MMAP).

We are deeply concerned about the Senate proposal to cut the SHIP budget by 42%.

This type of reduction will severely affect our ability to serve the thousands of beneficiaries that we assist throughout the year.

For example, during the 53 day Medicare Annual Enrollment Period, I anticipate that MMAP counselors in our 10 County Region will save clients over a $1,000,000 by providing them lower cost alternatives for their Part D prescription drug coverage for 2016.

The decision process is very complicated for most beneficiaries.  They often become overwhelmed and frustrated while trying to make sense out of myriad of choices available to them.

We all know how important health care insurance is, especially as we get older.

We, in MMAP, see clients every day who are very troubled about how to select a plan that they can afford and will give them the coverage they want.

The stress quickly disappears once they have a chance to meet with a MMAP team member.  We are good at what we do, and we are totally unbiased when we present options.

You can make a difference.

We anticipate that the US Senate will act on the SHIP budget no later than Dec. 11.

Below is a handy format provided by Medicare Rights that you can use to communicate your wishes to our Congressional Delegation.

Just type in your zip code and you will be presented with a list of Congressional delegates along with pre-supplied advocacy information.

You can also include your personal comments if you choose to do so.

Just click  to start the process or copy and paste the following website to your browser address line:

http://action.medicarerights.org/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=16497

Also, feel free to circulate this to others who may be interested in responding.

Thanks for your continued support and best wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving.

Jim Verville

Regional Coordinator, Medicare/Medicaid Assistance Program

Area Agency on Aging of NW MI

Contact Jim Verville at the Area Agency on Aging at 1609 Park Drive Traverse City, MI 49696 by calling (231) 947-8920 or e-mailing him at vervillej@aaanm.org.

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