Tell Congress: My Community Needs Its Senior Programs
Help navigating and understanding Medicare. Training to find a job. Education to manage a chronic condition. Support to age at home. Right now, seniors in your community are receiving these vital services because of federal funding.
Over the next three weeks, Congress will be discussing whether and how to fund the Medicare State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP), Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP), Chronic Disease Self-Management Education (CDSME), and Medicaid Money Follows the Person (MFP) program. Each of these community-based programs helps thousands of older adults every year, and is now threatened with potentially drastic funding cuts.
Below are four real-life stories of how these programs are improving lives, along with easy steps you can take today to tell Congress how important they are in your community.
In Oklahoma, an 83-year old woman turned to her local SHIP for free, in-person help that she couldn’t get from her insurance company. She was confused and distraught by a letter she received about the health insurance she was receiving through her husband’s retirement plan. A SHIP counselor reviewed the letter and explained that the company was no longer offering the same Medicare Advantage plan that included drug coverage. Instead, they were switching to a company-sponsored Medicare Supplemental plan, and each covered retiree had to select their own Part D prescription drug plan. The counselor explained the difference between her previous plan and the new coverage, as well as how to select a prescription drug plan, alleviating the woman’s anxiety and providing her with a plan of action.
SCSEP is the only job training program serving solely older adults, and it’s available in nearly every county in the nation. Donald Wilson, 60, is a disabled veteran who enrolled in the program last fall. While working at the SCSEP office in Martinsburg, WV, Wilson aggressively searched for a job, even applying in person after he finished his day at the office. SCSEP staff connected him to resources to assist with housing and public transit while he searched for a job, and they put him in contact with Macy’s Logistics and Operations. After a meeting at Macy’s, he returned to the office to announce that he was hired as a warehouse associate earning $15.50 an hour.
Chronic Disease Education
More than 60% of Medicare beneficiaries have at least one chronic condition and would benefit from the lessons learned in CDSME. Bob, an 88-year old retired teacher in Utah with rheumatoid arthritis, was looking for a way to take control of his health after his diagnosis. He learned about a local arthritis CDSME class sponsored by the state health department. In the class, Bob and his wife learned about the benefits of appropriate exercise, how to communicate with friends and family about their conditions, and ways to manage their symptoms. While the pain hasn’t gone away, Bob says the class helped them understand how to cope, which has improved his quality of life.
In 2015, Lisa Sanders was in a life-changing car accident. She lived in a nursing home following her injury, but thanks to the Money Follows the Person program in Georgia, she was able to move back home. Her health has improved drastically, and she is happy about the independence she has gained from being in her own house. Watch Lisa tell her story.