Louisiana ABC Coalition Launches Medicare Initiative

December 22, 2004

The Louisiana Department of Insurance’s Senior Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP) has joined forces with the Louisiana Rural Health Association (LRHA) to create the Louisiana Access to Benefits Coalition (ABC)—a rural Louisiana Medicare outreach and education program.

Louisiana ABC is a public-private partnership formed to reach out to, educate and enroll Medicare beneficiaries with lower incomes in Medicare’s new prescription drug savings program including the annual $600 credit, and other public and private programs available to help them better afford their prescription drugs.

LRHA is recruiting hospitals and medical clinics throughout rural Louisiana to serve as SHIIP sponsoring organizations for the purpose of housing volunteer Medicare specialists. The specialists are being recruited from the Louisiana Retired Teachers Association and AARP Louisiana, both coalition partners, to serve as SHIIP counselors.

Why is this important?

According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Louisiana has over 100,000 low income Medicare beneficiaries that are eligible for, but have not enrolled in, Medicare’s Prescription Drug Discount Card, with its annual $600 credit, and Medicare Savings Programs.

* MSPs pay the Medicare Part B premium of $78.20 per month plus covers all co-payments and deductibles saving the low-income beneficiary at least $938.40.
* It is projected that once enrolled in a MSP program, the beneficiary will automatically be enrolled into Medicare Part D—January 2006. The Part D premium is covered by Medicare Savings Programs with an estimated additional savings of $420 per year.

When do the Changes in Medicare take place?

Enrollment into the Discount Card program is throughout 2005. Medicare Part D enrollment starts in November 2005 and takes effect on Jan. 1, 2006.

What is the Coalition doing?

SHIIP will train the volunteers on the beneficiary benefits associated with the Medicare Modernization Act, including the Prescription Discount Card, Medicare Advantage, and Part D—Medicare’s Prescription Drug Benefit. LRHA is promoting the endeavor and recruiting the rural hospitals and volunteers.

While the effort is statewide, the coalition is focusing on an area of the state known as the Delta, from East Carroll Parish to Iberia Parish.

Current coalition members are: AARP Louisiana; Capital Area Agency on Aging; CENLA Area Agency on Aging; Citizens Medical Center; DHH Bureau of Primary Care & Rural Health; DHH Medicare Savings Programs; Governor’s Office of Elderly Affairs; Iberia Comprehensive Community Health; Louisiana Health Care Review; Louisiana Hospital Association; Louisiana Retired Teachers Association; Riverland Medical Center; and West Feliciana Parish Hospital.

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