Below is an advocacy letter California Health Advocates submitted to several Congress members calling for continued funding of our nationwide Medicare counseling programs – known as the Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program (HICAP) in California and State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) nationwide. Join us in contacting your Congress people to protect and fund this program. Here are some talking points about HICAP and a template letter you can tailor for your use. You can also send a letter to your Congress people urging them to protect SHIP through National Council on Aging’s online template.
February 27, 2018
The Honorable Roy Blunt, Chairman
The Honorable Patty Murray, Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services,
Education and Related Agencies
Committee on Appropriations
135 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Chairman Blunt and Ranking Member Murray,
I am writing to provide you an insight into the important work the California SHIP (Health Insurance Counseling & Advocacy Program) provides to California’s Medicare beneficiaries, and join the countless advocacy organizations around the country who have already expressed their serious concern regarding the proposal to eliminate funding for the National SHIP program.
California Health Advocates (CHA), a non-profit organization founded in 1997, is the leading Medicare advocacy and educational voice for more than 5.6 million.
California’s portion of the national allocation, currently at approximately $4 million dollars, has helped thousands of beneficiaries (estimated to be over 61,000 in FY 16-17) with personal objective counseling. Nationally it is estimated that over 7 million people with Medicare received help from SHIPs. Over the past 10 years, the number of beneficiaries receiving personal assistance has almost tripled. Each day, 10,000 Americans are becoming Medicare eligible each day and HICAP/SHIP services are needed more than ever. This is the only program that provides free, unbiased, one-on-one benefit information counseling to seniors, people with disabilities, and their families.
HICAPs/SHIPs educate and help beneficiaries to navigate an increasingly complex Medicare program – personal assistance that cannot be provided by 1-800 Medicare, on-line or written materials, or other outreach activities. In fact, approximately one-third of all partner referrals to HICAPs/SHIP 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. Additionally, these partners include HICAP/SHIP contact information in their websites, publications, and correspondence to beneficiaries as the source of assistance when individuals need help.
I thank you for considering the grave implications to de-funding the SHIP program.
Tatiana Fassieux, Board Chair
California Health Advocates
CC: The Honorable Senator Kamala Harris
The Honorable Senator Dianne Feinstein
California Members of the House Appropriations Committee: the Honorable Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard, the Honorable Representative Barbara Lee, the Honorable Representative Pete Aguilar, the Honorable Representative David Valadao, the Honorable Representative Ken Calvert