CHA Asks Senate Budget Committee to Reject Funding Cuts to SHIPs

CHA Asks Senate Budget Committee to Reject Funding Cuts to SHIPs

May 18, 2017

 

 

The Honorable Mike Enzi
Chairman, Senate Budget Committee
624 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510

The Honorable Bernie Sanders
Ranking Member, Senate Budget Committee
624 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510

 

Re: Reject Cuts to the Medicare State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP)

Dear Senator Enzi and Senator Sanders:

As a non-profit organization serving California’s 5.6 million Medicare beneficiaries and advocating for beneficiaries nationwide, we are writing to urge you to sign on to Senator Murphy’s letter to appropriators to reject cuts to the Medicare State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP), which provides essential services to older Americans in our state.

SHIPs provide local, in-depth, unbiased insurance counseling and assistance to Americans with Medicare, their families, and caregivers. The free services include help with coverage options, fraud and abuse issues, billing problems, appeals, and enrollment in low-income protection programs.

Approximately 10,000 Americans become eligible for Medicare each day-significantly increasing the need for SHIP services. Over the past 2 years, about 7 million people with Medicare received help from SHIPs.

Medicare is complicated. Better informed Medicare consumers save money for themselves and potentially reduce overall Medicare spending. In 2015, Massachusetts estimated that its SHIP program saved beneficiaries $110 million, while Michigan estimated $56 million in savings, and North Carolina $53 million saved.

SHIPs offer increasingly critical services that cannot be supplied met by 1-800- MEDICARE, on-line or written materials, or other outreach activities. In fact, approximately one-third of all partner referrals to SHIPs originate from Medicare Advantage and Part D prescription drug plans, local and state agencies, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Social Security Administration, and members of Congress and their staff.

SHIP funding was cut by nearly 10% in FY17 (from $52 to $47 million), and it may be targeted for even deeper cuts in FY18. We need your support to protect and restore funding for this vital program that Medicare beneficiaries in our state rely upon. If funding for these critical Medicare services had kept pace with inflation and growing need since FY11, funding in FY18 would be almost $70 million.

Please show your support for Medicare and reject proposals to take these essential services away from Medicare beneficiaries by signing on to Sen. Murphy’s letter by May 19. Your staff can contact Caitlin Peruccio in the Senator’s office to add your support.

Thank you for your consideration of this request.

 

Sincerely,

Tatiana's signature

Tatiana Fassieux, Board Chair
California Health Advocates

 

cc: The Honorable Members of the Senate Budget Committee
Senator Charles Grassley
Senator Lindsey Graham
Senator David Perdue
Senator John Kennedy
Senator Luther Strange
Senator Mike Crapo
Senator Pat Toomey
Senator Bob Corker
Senator Cory Gardner
Senator John Boozman
Senator Patty Murray
Senator Debbie Stabenow
Senator Mark Warner
Senator Tim Kaine
Senator Chris Van Hollen
Senator Ron Wyden
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse
Senator Jeff Merkley
Senator Angus King
Senator Kamala Harris

Our blogger Karen J. Fletcher is CHA's publications consultant. She provides technical expertise, writing and research on Medicare, health disparities and other health care issues. With a Masters in Public Health from UC Berkeley, she serves in health advocacy as a trainer and consultant. See her current articles.