(Pictured above from left to right: Fred Riccardi, Director of Client Services at Medicare Rights; Shirley Merner, Director of Consumer Protection at NEI3A; Rachel Bennett, Vice President of Program & Product Development at Medicare Rights; Ginny Paulson, Director of the SHIP TA Center at NEI3A; Emily Whicheloe, Education Associate at Medicare Rights; Mike Klug, Consultant of NEI3A)Last week, as part of the annual conference for State Health Insurance Assistance Programs (SHIPs) and Senior Medicare Patrols (SMPs), the Medicare Rights Center convened with the U.S. Administration for Community Living (ACL), the Northeast Iowa Area Agency on Aging (NEI3A), Health Benefits ABCs, and two consultants in Milwaukee, WI, to spotlight recent successes in reaching SHIPs and SMPs with important support.
Medicare Rights is NEI3A’s primary partner in the SHIP National Technical Assistance Center (SHIP TA Center). The SHIP TA Center serves as a central source of information for and about the national SHIP program. Medicare Rights provides Medicare training and certification support and related technical assistance to the national SHIP program and its 54 individual SHIP projects.
Over the past two years, with a three-year grant from ACL, the SHIP TA Center has proven itself an important resource for SHIPs. For instance, the Center launched a robust website to provide a range of information to qualified SHIP staff and volunteers. As part of this effort, Medicare Rights created an Online Counselor Certification and Training program that will fully roll out in the coming year and that 24 states have already used to create exams to certify new SHIP counselors. Further, Medicare Rights’ proven Medicare Minute program has been used in more than 45 states to engage SHIP and SMP volunteers in reaching community members with good Medicare information.
During the conference, Rachel Bennett, Vice President of Program & Product Development, Frederic Riccardi, Director of Client Services, and Emily Whicheloe, Education Associate, worked in close collaboration with partners at the SHIP TA Center to review results from SHIP needs assessments conducted in the past year and to establish training and support goals for next year.
Later in the conference week, Casey Schwarz, Senior Counsel for Education & Federal Policy, gave two well-attended presentations about the complexities surrounding coordination of benefits, or the division of responsibilities between two insurance companies, when a person has both Medicare and certain other types of insurance.
This information is critically important for people approaching Medicare eligibility and deciding whether or not to enroll in, and pay for, Medicare Part B. The rules are complex, and Schwarz’s presentations addressed key facts and techniques that SHIP directors and counselors can use in the field when assisting beneficiaries in navigating this high-stakes decision. Participation was lively as many SHIP directors shared their experiences working with individuals who had struggled to navigate having more than one type of coverage.
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