Medicare Education Program Serves as National Model

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The Access to Benefits Coalition (ABC), formed with leadership from the Winter Park Health Foundation (WPHF) and under the auspices of the Senior Resource Alliance to find ways to educate older adults about the changes in Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage, continues to serve as a national model for collaboration.

Paulette Geller, Coalition co-chair and WPHF Program Director-Older Adults, will speak at the Grantmakers in Health (GIH) conference in Phoenix this month to explain how WPHF and other local organizations are collaborating to help make the Medicare drug benefit work for the elderly.

The local efforts also were recognized at a recent Grantmakers in Aging (GIA) Conference and have caught the attention of the media, including the Orlando Sentinel which has run a series of informative stories about the new prescription plan, and the producers of Brian Williams’ NBC Nightly News program which filmed a segment at an ABC Medicare information session in west Orange County.

Formed more than six months ago, the group sponsored six Medicare education programs in Central Florida drawing more than 1,200 people—750 in Orange County.

In addition to hosting the fairs, the ABC group also succeeded in mobilizing      2-1-1 staff members to receive and field Medicare Rx inquiries. It also oversaw the distribution of educational materials. Some 158,000 copies of a special Medicare Rx edition of the Florida Hospital Premier Health newsletter were dispersed. This newsletter was sent to the combined Florida Hospital and Orlando Regional Hospital mailing lists (the first time their lists have been combined).

These efforts received a much-appreciated boost when Orlando was one of five Florida communities picked to be part of the My Medicare Matters national education project.

This six-month project, funded through a grant to the National Council on Aging, and coordinated in Florida by the Florida Council on Aging (FCOA), involves sending vans equipped with computers, materials and people to provide individual education and enrollment opportunities to all people with Medicare.

The van will be scheduled throughout the Central Florida region. No one affiliated with My Medicare Matters represents any Medicare Prescription Drug plan so consumers will receive unbiased assistance.

Ms. Geller; Doug Beach, Senior Resource Alliance CEO; and other community leaders including Orange County Mayor Richard Crotty, have been involved in introducing the My Medicare Matters program to Central Florida older adults.