DOI News

For Immediate Release: Contact:
October 7, 2009 Kristin Milam
Johanna Royo
"Relay for Extra Help" Kicks Off to Raise Awareness of Medicare Savings
80,000 Statewide Are Unaware They May Qualify for Financial Help
RALEIGH -- More than 100 seniors pounded the pavement today at a relay event in Raleigh to kickoff a statewide enrollment campaign for Medicare's "Extra Help" low-income subsidy and Medicare Savings Programs that help eligible Medicare recipients pay for their prescription drug coverage and medicines and other Medicare medical coverage.   Relay for Extra Help Logo
The campaign called "Relay for Extra Help" encourages Medicare recipients to help each other by relaying the message to their local communities that financial assistance is available - even for those who might not typically receive federal assistance. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has identified that North Carolina has more than 80,000 Medicare recipients who potentially qualify for the cost-saving programs, but have not enrolled.
The N.C. Senior Tar Heel Legislators attended a relay event in Raleigh where they agreed to relay the message back to all 100 counties. The Relay for Extra Help campaign's goal is to find and enroll eligible Medicare recipients in either the federal Low-Income Subsidy program that helps pay for Medicare prescription drug coverage and medicines or the Medicare Savings Program that helps pay for Medicare Part A and B premiums.
"It's great to have so many seniors here today who are committed to taking the Extra Help message back to their communities," said Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin. "North Carolina has more than 80,000 people on Medicare who could be receiving Medicare's Low-Income Subsidy benefits, but have not yet signed up. Our goal is to relay this message to every town in the state, find these folks and get them enrolled so that they can start receiving help paying for their Medicare prescription drug premiums and medicines."
"By serving as ambassadors for this important initiative, members of the Senior Tar Heel Legislature are making a positive difference in the lives of their fellow seniors," said Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Lanier Cansler. "We must reach and assist the most vulnerable seniors, and this is an encouraging example of achieving that goal."
The N.C. Department of Insurance's SHIIP Division (Seniors' Health Insurance Information Program), N.C. Department of Health and Human Services' Division of Aging and Adult Services, Aging and Disability Resource Centers, and the Area Agencies on Aging have all partnered for the Relay for Extra Help campaign. Local Departments of Social Services and the State Division of Medical Assistance are also working with the Extra Help campaign.
SHIIP can help with the application process. To apply for the Extra Help or Medicare Savings Programs or for more information, contact SHIIP at 800-443-9354 or visit the Relay for Extra Help Web site page.
-- NCDOI --