In an opinion column, North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Calls for Congress to Keep SHIIP Funding

(Raleigh, NC – Insurance News 360) – Commissioner Mike Caumey encouraged Congressional leaders to preserve the funding that goes to programs like North Carolina’s Seniors Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP).  The North Carolina program gets $1.4 million each year, or 65 percent of their budget, from  federal funds.

It saved the state’s seniors $60 million by sitting down with them, talking and helping them to choose the right prescription coverage plan that meets their needs.

“SHIIP trains 960 volunteers across the state’s 100 counties. Those volunteers, along with our dedicated staff in Raleigh, counseled more than 102,000 Medicare beneficiaries across the state last year. In addition, SHIIP served almost 17,000 Medicare beneficiaries with disabilities. It counseled more than 28,000 people with incomes below 150 percent of the federal poverty level” Caumey wrote.

The organization also helps seniors to understand the confusion of Medicare and its Parts A, B, C and D, along with the different supplement plans that exist.

SHIIP provides unbiased information to help clear up this confusion, allowing them to decide for themselves which plan works best for them.

The people in Washington pushing to eliminate SHIIP funding say the program is duplicative. In reality, it isn’t.

Sure, the federal government operates a 1-800-MEDICARE call line which seeks to answer citizens’ questions about the federal health program. However, if consumers’ calls get too detailed or complicated, the federal call center usually refers the consumer back to state SHIIP programs for answers to their questions.

If Congress eliminates SHIIP funding, the calls to the federal call line would likely quadruple. The federal government would most likely have to increase its staff to handle the cost, most likely wiping out any savings associated with ending the program.

Source: North Carolina Department of Insurance.

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