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CMS announces new requirements for SHIP grants

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced Friday new requirements for State Health Insurance Assistance Programs (SHIP) grants. The agency said the requirements would increase beneficiaries' awareness about certain provisions in the Affordable Care Act, including new Medicare prevention and wellness benefits and fraud initiatives.

"SHIPs are a key partner in our efforts to ensure that seniors and persons with disabilities who rely on Medicare are aware of the new benefits available to them under the Affordable Care Act," said CMS Administrator Donald Berwick, MD.

CMS said the new requirements are part of the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) Basic Grant Announcement and Grant Renewal Application for Fiscal Year (FY) 2011. The FY 2011 grants are continuation grants available to the 54 existing SHIP organizations in the fifty States and territories. CMS said it anticipates that all SHIPs will participate in this grant renewal process.

According to CMS, the grant renewals will allow SHIPs to expand and develop new strategies to strengthen their community-based and grassroots networks. The SHIPs provide personalized, one-on-one counseling, information, education and outreach to help people understand their new Medicare benefits. The grants will provide additional support for targeted outreach to individuals with disabilities, those with limited or low income who may be eligible for the low income subsidy; individuals with limited English proficiency; and those from diverse racial and ethnic groups to ensure that these populations take full advantage of their Medicare benefits, CMS officials said.

In FY 2010, CMS made $45 million in direct SHIP grants and support contracts available. Nearly $41.6 million in funding was distributed for basic SHIP grant awards, and an additional $1.5 million in performance awards was distributed. In the grant year ending March 31, 2010, SHIPs reported that they served approximately 5 million people.

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