Thursday, December 13, 2018

The Medicare Minute Takes Off in Several Counties in New York

Aging Service Specialists for the Greene County Department for the Aging used to go to

The Fulton County Office for the Aging promoted the Medicare Minute program at their annual Senior Picnic.
senior centers at scheduled times to be available for anyone with questions about Medicare, but people were often hesitant to approach them.

The Fulton County Office for the Aging had a similar situation, said Andrea Fettinger, Director of Fulton County's aging office Director.

The solution: the Medicare Minute.

The Medicare Minute, produced by the Medicare Rights Center (MRC), is a short presentation on a topic related to Medicare. With open enrollment just around the corner the newest "minute" is about just that -- "open enrollment."

The Medicare Minute is an education program that's presented by offices for aging staff and other local aging and disability-related groups and usually sponsored. In New York, Capital District Physician’s Health Plan (CDPHP) sponsors the Medicare Minute program in 24 counties. Offices for aging usually present it as part of their Health Insurance Information and Counseling (HIICAP) program.

There are essentially two goals: expand HIICAP’s reach and expand the public’s Medicare knowledge base. Presentations can be added on to existing outreach or used to conduct new outreach and reach new audiences.

Each month Medicare Rights produces the Medicare Minute on a different topic. August’s topic, for example, is on Medicare coverage of home health care. Other topics produced monthly include: how Medicare covers hospital care, paying the least amount for a doctor’s office visit, therapy coverage, and more.

Each presentation package contains a script that focuses on three major points for the presenter to share with the audience. They can work straight from the script or improvise. The presentation package also includes a document in a question and answer format with additional background information for the presenter. And finally there’s a handout which is the take home information for the audience.

The presentation is designed to take approximately 10 minutes to share, according to Allison Cook, Education Associate at Medicare Rights. Allison provides the offices for aging with support. She has the answers to questions like: how do I deal with questions I don’t know the answer to?

The answer: The presenter may obtain the answer and get back to the person or share the local HIICAP number or Medicare Rights’ phone number for questions related to Medicare, Allison said. Allison also sends presenters a link to a quick video which reviews that month’s Medicare Minute materials and provides presentation tips.

The Medicare Minute is currently in 12 states. The goal is to reach more people through HIICAP in New York State. It has already been implemented in almost half of New York counties with a sponsor. It’s also available in New York City, where the Center for Medicare Rights is located, and in Westchester, where the Medicare Minute program began.

Fulton and Greene counties, two counties who have been conducting Medicare Minute presentations for at least four months, are using it a few different ways:
  • At nutrition centers before a meal.
  • As a segment on a public radio program called Senior Magazine.
  • At Senior Club meetings.
“The Medicare Minute helps a lot because it’s general information. It applies to everyone. People don’t have to feel as if we’re addressing one person. We’re addressing everybody,” said Andrea Benjamin Legg, Aging Specialist for Greene County. 
“And it’s easy to understand. It’s structured, black and white. If we haven’t covered something yet then we can include that in the next one or schedule something that’s over and above what’s already in place,” Andrea Legg said.

Fulton County’s experience has been the same. “The aging specialists love it because the research has been done. It’s factual and it’s in demand,” Andrea Fettinger said.

Since not everyone attends a club or a congregate meal, Fulton County is looking into doing presentations at senior housing development tenant association meetings and other senior groups that meet but aren’t currently connected to the office for aging, Andrea Fettinger said.

New York City and Westchester have also had success partnering with local libraries to conduct regular presentations.Greene County would also like to expand on the Medicare Minute.

“The more outreach we can do the more knowledgeable our clientele will be and that will help us,” Andrea Legg said.

Fulton County was the first on board with the program through the Association on Aging in New York and Medicare Rights Center partnership.

“It’s a great opportunity for us to provide well thought out information provided by MRC through the Association,” Andrea Fettinger said. “We use it as new information and we add it on to the general monthly visits that have been established for several years, and it’s been very successful.”

About Us
The Association on Aging in New York represents the state’s 59 mostly county-based local offices for the aging established under the federal Older Americans Act to respond to the needs of Americans age 60 and over. The Association provides professional development and education that includes the annual Aging Concerns Unite Us (ACUU) conference, webinars, regional caregiver forums and a fall Leadership Institute. The Association works to strengthen and expand long term services and supports to individuals so they may age in place in the community.  A core philosophy is to work in collaboration with other agencies. Originally known as the New York State Association of Area Agencies on Aging, the Board of Directors approved a new name in 2013, the Association on Aging in New York, to create a more cohesive and inclusive network to address the diverse needs of an aging population, as well as individuals of all ages needing long term services and supports. For more information, go to

About Medicare Rights Center

Medicare Rights Center is a national, nonprofit consumer service organization that works to ensure access to affordable health care for older adults and people with disabilities through counseling and advocacy, educational programs, and public policy initiatives.
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