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Insurance Department Training Sessions Promote Medicare-Savings Programs
June 6, 2001 701-328-2440

Bismarck, ND - On June 12 and 13 the North Dakota Insurance Department will sponsor two outreach-training sessions, in Fargo and Bismarck, to help more than 150 registered volunteers and professionals learn how to counsel seniors and people with disabilities on how to maximize their Medicare benefits. The events will be conducted in partnership with the state Department of Human Services and the Community HealthCare Association.

As many as 5,000 North Dakotans may be eligible for additional Medicare-Medicaid benefits, according to the state Department of Human Services -- and the North Dakota Insurance Department's Senior Health Insurance Counseling program (SHIC) has a plan to find and assist them.

For journalists, the training events provide a rich feature-news or spot-news opportunity to explore Medicare savings programs, and to interview registered SHIC volunteers and social-services providers serving seniors throughout the state.

"Medicare is a complex federal program," Insurance Commissioner Jim Poolman said. "Some of our seniors and people with disabilities are almost certainly unaware that they could be eligible for reimbursement for their premiums, medical co-pays, deductibles and other out-of-pocket expenses. Our goal at the Insurance Department is to provide them with quality health-insurance counseling through SHIC so that they can fully benefit from the Medicare-savings program."

Dedicated volunteers and professionals are critical in identifying "dual-eligible beneficiaries" - individuals who may be entitled to benefits under two programs, although many are unaware of the additional benefits available to them. North Dakota's growing elderly population and its increasing need for affordable health care makes this topic all the more timely, important and high-interest.

The training sessions, which will be delivered by the Barents Group of McClean, Va., will explain Medicare-savings programs, outline eligibility criteria for the programs, provide counselors with outreach techniques and raise their cultural awareness in reaching eligible beneficiaries.

Enclosed, for your reference, is a list of volunteer and official participants, and a preliminary agenda for the events. Insurance Commissioner Jim Poolman will close the Bismarck session at 2 p.m. He and other participants will be available immediately afterward in the training conference rooms for interviews and photos in Bismarck. Other officials and participants will be available in Fargo.

As always, if I can assist you in any way, please don't hesitate to contact me. We hope you'll plan to join us at these very important events for North Dakotans.

The Insurance Department's training and outreach project is funded by a $20,000 grant from the National Association of State Units on Aging, a division of the federal Health Care Financing Administration(HCFA), which also funds SHIC.

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North Dakota Insurance Department
600 E. Boulevard Ave.
Bismarck, ND 58505-0320
Phone 701.328.2440
Toll free 800.247.0560
Fax 701.328.4880

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