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Proposed SHIP cuts may leave Medicare enrollees adrift

A 2017 budget bill that the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee approved last week proposes to cut all funding for a program that provides education and enrollment assistance to Medicare beneficiaries.
The proposed bill gets rid of more than $52 milliion in funding for the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP), which operates in 50 states to provide "free, in depth, one-on-one insurance counseling and assistance to Medicare beneficiaries, their families, friends and caregivers," according to the SHIP technical assistance center.
The loss of SHIP is not final. The full U.S. Senate will vote on a budget bill later this year, and it's possible that funding will be restored.
Should SHIP lose funding, however, your patients may seek help in understanding their Medicare benefits in the new year.
Some organizations, including the Center for Medicare Advocacy, "strongly oppose" the decision to cut SHIP funding. "Today’s Medicare beneficiary must choose among more than 20 prescription drug plans, an average of 19 Medicare Advantage plans, as well as various Medigap supplemental insurance policies — all with different premiums, cost sharing, provider networks, and coverage rules," states a Center for Medicare Advocacy press release.
Stay tuned to Part B News for updates on the SHIP program.
Blog Tags: CMS, Medicare Advantage
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