SHINE Program to continue essential service for elders
TALLAHASSEE – Florida’s SHINE program, which helps seniors get the most out of their Medicare benefits and make informed choices about sometimes confusing health care options, has received a federal award of more than $2.3 million, the Department of Elder Affairs announced today.
The award represents the 17th year of funding for SHINE (Serving Health Insurance Needs of Elders), a state-based program that provides free and unbiased counseling to Medicare beneficiaries and their caregivers on a wide variety of Medicare and health insurance topics.
The SHINE program offers counseling and information through a network of more than 400 dedicated volunteers and more than 300 community partners. Over the past two years SHINE has assisted more than 530,000 clients across the state through either one-on-one counseling, educational presentations to community groups or health and senior fairs.
“At a time when many elders are finding it difficult to pay for essential medications, SHINE counselors are truly a lifeline for Florida’s Medicare beneficiaries, “ said Elder Affairs Secretary E. Douglas Beach. “With so many resources straining to help citizens in need, it’s especially gratifying that SHINE will be able to continue its outstanding service.”
Under federal law, every state has a State Health Insurance Assistance Program, or SHIP, responsible for operating local insurance counseling and prescription assistance programs. The SHINE program serves as the SHIP in Florida, and will receive $2,349,987 in the coming fiscal year through a grant from the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). The amount is the same as for the current year, and is part of almost $36 million in basic program grants being distributed to SHIPs across the country.
“SHINE serves an important role in providing information and support to people with Medicare all across Florida,” said CMS Acting Administrator Charlene Frizzera. “This new funding will help to ensure that SHINE continues to work with local governments, community-based organizations and other partners in Florida to help meet the needs of our Medicare beneficiaries.”
A significant achievement of Florida’s SHINE program has been to educate and guide many of the state’s 3.3 million Medicare beneficiaries about their prescription drug coverage options. With the continued 2009 funding, SHINE will conduct targeted community-based outreach, with a special emphasis on reaching seniors who will most likely be eligible for Medicare’s low-income subsidy if they enroll for Medicare prescription drug coverage.
SHINE is committed to working with partners statewide to reach current and newly eligible Medicare beneficiaries who may qualify for programs that can help them lower their Medicare costs. For more information on Medicare Savings Programs, including the low-income subsidy program or state-sponsored health insurance or prescription discount options such as the Florida Discount Drug Card and the Cover Florida Health Care Access Program, Floridians can call the Department’s Elder Helpline toll-free at 1-800-963-5337 or visit www.FloridaSHINE.org