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Twenty Dedicated Years
October 8, 2009 • Volume 9, Issue 40
For the past 20 years, the Medicare Rights Center has provided health care counseling and support to older Americans and those with disabilities, helping them navigate the health care system.
The Medicare Rights Center is dedicated to helping people with Medicare get the health care and medications they need through counseling and advocacy, educational programs and public policy initiatives. We work tirelessly to serve people with Medicare nationwide through our consumer, professional and appeals hotlines – and we translate these direct service experiences into educational materials and sound policy recommendations.
In 2008-9, our expert consumer hotline counselors helped over 15,000 clients answer questions on a range of Medicare topics. Many of our callers have specific legal questions or need help appealing a denial of a medical service or prescription drug. Last year, Medicare Rights’ appeals hotline helped roughly 3,700 callers with these types of questions, assisting with appeals in 20 states. Other consumer callers were eligible for Medicare low-income programs, and our enrollment team assisted 1,500 individuals in securing benefits totaling more than $3.5 million, Finally, Medicare Rights increasingly seeks to empower professionals to serve their own clients. To that end, our professional hotline and related services last year helped over 6,000 social workers, doctors, nurses and other health professionals help an estimated 24,000 additional consumers.
Along with our hotlines, we continually update information on medicareinteractive.org, a web site that provides consumer-friendly information on Medicare to over 400,000 people each year. The site “has answers to practically any question you can think of,” according to Consumer Reports, which ranks our site as one of the top five most valuable web sites for retirement planning.
Direct service work fuels Medicare Rights’s policy efforts, enabling our policy department to ground legislative and administrative recommendations in the experiences of real people. Last year, Medicare Rights made recommendations to the Obama Administration about Medicare’s role in health reform, and we work regularly with other advocates, including the National Council on Aging, Community Catalyst, the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, and the Center for Medicare Advocacy, to counter health reform misconceptions and to mobilize people with Medicare to actively participate in improving coverage for themselves and their families.
The economic downturn, coupled with the rapidly increasing number of older Americans, makes the Medicare Rights Center’s work critically important. By 2030, nearly one in every five Americans will be 65 years or older and eligible for Medicare—and we must be there to help them.
The Medicare Rights Center’s work is possible because of generous contributions from people like you. We appreciate the time you spend reading this publication, informing yourself about the issues and taking action with elected officials and policy makers to address those issues. Some of you have also contributed your time, money or expertise over the past 20 years, and you have our deep appreciation.
A number of you will be with us as we celebrate our 20th anniversary in New York City on Wednesday, October 14th. We will be honoring Drew Altman, the president and CEO of The Kaiser Family Foundation and Stuart Appelbaum, the president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. Others have made donations in honor of our anniversary and these fine leaders. If you are interested in joining us or making an event donation, please visit our event web site: www.medicarerights.org/events.
“More than two years after it first filed an appeal, the Medicare Rights Center has secured coverage under the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit for a New York woman’s ovarian cancer treatment. As a result, Judith M. Layzer will obtain coverage from her Part D plan of Cetrotide, a hormone treatment costing upwards of $35,000 per month, which has been shown effective against ovarian cancer, with minimal toxicity, in a study in the journal Gynecologic Oncology. ‘This decision means I will be able to afford to continue an effective treatment prescribed by my doctor,’ Mrs. Layzer said. ‘I have been energetically pursuing this approval and so has the Medicare Rights Center and we finally won, but it should not be this hard, or take this long, to obtain coverage for medically necessary drugs.’ …The Medicare Rights Center continues to advocate for passage of legislation that would explicitly require case-by-case coverage determinations for off-label uses of non-cancer drugs on the basis of sound research published in peer-reviewed journals showing off-label use is effective.” (Medicare Rights Center Secures Coverage for New York Woman’s Cancer Treatment, Medicare Rights Center Press Release, April 22, 2009)
“Over a two-year grant period, Medicare Rights and Food Bank will work collaboratively through hotlines and field sites to enroll seniors in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Food Stamp Program (SNAP, formerly Food Stamps), Medicare Savings Programs, the Extra Help program under the Medicare drug benefit, and the Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage (EPIC) program. The two advocacy organizations will also work with city agencies to improve enrollment systems and benefits administration for future enrollees. ‘Improving access to Medicare-related assistance programs has been a top priority in both our direct services and policy initiatives,’ said Joe Baker, president of the Medicare Rights Center. ‘We are delighted to launch this innovative outreach and enrollment drive with one of the city’s strongest advocacy organizations. We are eager to work with the Human Resources Administration, the Department for the Aging, and others to streamline systems so that poor older New Yorkers can receive all of the benefits they’re entitled to as quickly as possible.’” (Medicare Rights Center and Food Bank For New York City Awarded $1 Million to Increase Enrollment of Low-Income New Yorkers in Assistance Programs, Medicare Rights Center Press Release, July 6, 2009)
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Medicare Part D Appeals Help for Advocates Is Here!
Medicare Rights Center’s new Medicare Part D Appeals: An advocate’s manual to navigating the Medicare private drug plan appeals process offers an easy-to-understand, comprehensive overview of the entire appeals process, including real-life case examples, a glossary of important appeals terms, a sample protocol for advocates, and links to important resources.
Register for a FREE copy of this great resource.
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Medicare Part D Monitoring Project
would like to hear about your experience, or that of someone you know, enrolled in a private drug plan. With information about what the issues are with Medicare Part D, we will be able to demand that those problems be fixed. Medicare Rights Center
Submit your story at http://www.medicarerights.org/issues-actions/tell-your-story.php.
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The Louder Our Voice, the Stronger Our Message
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Asclepios—named for the Greek and Roman god of medicine who, acclaimed for his healing abilities, was at one point the most worshipped god in Greece—is a weekly e-newsletter designed to keep you up-to-date with Medicare program and policy issues, and advance advocacy strategies to address them. Please help build awareness of key Medicare consumer issues by forwarding this action alert to your friends and encouraging them to subscribe today.
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The 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.
Visit our online subscription form to sign up for Asclepios at http://www.medicarerights.org/about-mrc/newsletter-signup.php.
Get answers to your Medicare questions from Medicare Interactive at http://www.medicareinteractive.org.