CMS rewards $45 million to SHIP Medicare services

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The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will distribute $45 million in grants to the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP), which helps to provide community-based outreach and services to Medicare recipients.

According to CMS, these services reached 5.4 million people last year. In 2010, CMS reported that the SHIP funds will be used to further target Medicare beneficiaries, particularly providing prescription drug coverage to those with limited incomes.

The agency said that the SHIP organizations will focus their outreach efforts on beneficiary groups which do not take "full advantage" of their Medicare benefits, such as those with disabilities from diverse racial and ethnic groups and those with limited English proficiency.

“In these difficult economic times, states are seeking opportunities to expand senior advocacy funding and these grants enable them to better serve their senior populations, including those who are new to Medicare and their families and caregivers,” said Charlene Frizzera, acting CMS administrator.

This year, the agency will use new benchmarking tools as ways to better measure and assess the services provided by the SHIP network.

According to CMS, state responses are due Feb. 16, 2010 and funds will be awarded April 2010. Currently, the funds are distributed to 54 SHIP organizations that are also eligible for supplemental funding and performance-based awards from the agency.