April 22, 2009

Grant money used to reach more than 80,000 Missouri seniors on Medicare in the past year

Jefferson City, Mo. - An educational grant awarded by the Missouri Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions & Professional Registration (DIFP) was used to provide free information and counseling on Medicare to more than 80,000 Missouri seniors since April of 2008. The department awarded the $1,240,562 grant last year to the Columbia nonprofit group CLAIM, which provides free, unbiased information on Medicare to Missourians.

CLAIM is in its 15th year of providing Medicare answers through local one-on-one counseling, consumer literature, a Web site, educational seminars and booth attendance at senior fairs and other events in Missouri. In the past 12 months, CLAIM helped more than 20,000 Missouri consumers through one-on-one counseling. Staff and volunteers also attended or provided more than 700 informational events, reaching more than 60,000 people in the process.

"Medicare provides invaluable services to Missouri seniors, but the enrollment choices can be complicated and overwhelming," said DIFP Director John M. Huff. "That's why it's vitally important to have these CLAIM counselors, who are trained to boil the literature and application forms down to understandable terms for the average consumer"

Most of the funding is provided by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which designates an official State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) for each state. In Missouri, CLAIM is the designated SHIP. The federal grant accounted for $1,090,562 of the award to CLAIM. The DIFP added an additional $150,000 toward CLAIM's efforts.

To find a local counselor for free Medicare assistance from the CLAIM program, or to apply to become a volunteer, visit missouriclaim.org or call (800) 390-3330.