June 21, 2016 Advocacy Alert


Tell Congress to Preserve One-on-One
Medicare Counseling

As n4a’s June 13 Legislative Update detailed, the Senate Labor-HHS measure that recently passed out of the full Appropriations Committee would zero out the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP). Eliminating SHIPs would leave millions who need support comparing coverage options, appealing denials, applying for financial assistance, and navigating increasingly complex Medicare benefits stranded—with nowhere to turn.

Why would such an effective, important program be eliminated? It’s our understanding that the drastic recommendation is not grounded in any critique of the SHIPs’ work nationwide, but rather is a result of the overall budget restrictions/caps previous Congresses passed and this Congress has chosen to stay within. The Senate Labor-HHS Subcommittee had less funding than last year to spread around thousands of programs, so when they boost NIH funding by billions as they did again this year, other programs are cut. We are also concerned that the lawmakers do not fully understand the unique value of SHIPs and may believe this one-on-one work is duplicative with other Medicare education options. 

The House Labor-HHS Appropriations Committee has not yet finalized their spending plan, but may do so shortly after the 4th of July. This is the time for all aging and SHIP advocates to raise your voices and ensure that the House does not follow the Senate’s lead and that, ultimately, this vital program is not tragically compromised or eliminated.
 
n4a is calling on all AAAs and Title VI programs to not only reach out to lawmakers to educate them on the value of the SHIP program and the need for continued funding, but also to engage your local providers, advocates and consumers and encourage them to take action as well.
 
To better help you reach into your community with this advocacy ask, n4a has partnered with the Medicare Rights Center to create a simple, consumer-friendly alert that can be personalized. 

Action Steps:

Reach out to your Members of Congress and let them know your agency opposes the Senate Appropriations Committee’s SHIP funding recommendation. You can use our Alert to send a customized email or send them an email directly, but make sure you communicate the value of the SHIP program in your community!
 
Engage your community! The n4a & Medicare Rights Center alert is easy to understand and makes taking action very simple. Please share the link with your providers, advisory boards, partners, SHIP volunteers and consumers and urge them to take action! To fight a cut this drastic, the SHIP community needs to make a lot of noise in a short period of time.
 
It’s also important to PERSONALIZE the emails you send from the Alert so share anecdotes about the type of direct assistance SHIPs provide, data on how many volunteer hours are provided in your area and other stories or data sets that will educate Congress about the value of the SHIPs.
 
For national data and background information on SHIP: http://www.acl.gov/Programs/CIP/OHIC/SHIP.aspx

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If you have questions or concerns about this Advocacy Alert or n4a’s policy positions, please contact Autumn Campbell at acampbell@n4a.org and Amy Gotwals at agotwals@n4a.org