"Many seniors and people
with disabilities across our state live on fixed incomes and need
assistance in finding reliable information on the health care and
prescription drug plans available to help them save money," Gov.
Blagojevich said. "As the cost of health care continues to rise --
especially the cost of medications -- it becomes more important than
ever to educate people on their health care options. We have a
wonderful group of volunteers in Illinois who dedicate their time to
helping seniors find affordable care. With this additional funding,
we'll be able to better train the people we have and recruit even
more volunteers. With more volunteers, we can help more seniors
determine which programs best meet their needs, whether it's I-SaveRx,
the Rx Buying Club, Circuit Breaker or the new Medicare program."
The funds, totaling $993,951, will be
used to provide advanced training to current Senior Health Insurance
Program volunteers about improvements and changes in state and
federal coverage options for seniors. With changes in the Medicare
prescription drug program scheduled to begin on Nov. 15 of this
year, seniors will have new options from which to select among
federal and state prescription drug programs. Over the course of the
next year, additional SHIP volunteer locations will be identified,
and new volunteers will be recruited and trained.
The SHIP program, initiated in the
fall of 1988, now has over 180 offices throughout the state, staffed
by nearly 700 volunteer counselors. SHIP volunteer offices are
affiliated with community organizations in nearly all Illinois
counties. Since its inception, more than 800 SHIP volunteers have
contributed nearly 202,000 hours to assist over 174,000 clients in
one-on-one counseling sessions, helping Illinois seniors save more
than $14.2 million on their health care costs.
Due to sweeping changes in the
federal Medicare program, SHIP counseling services are needed now
more than ever. Over the next several months nearly 1.5 million
Illinois Medicare users will have to learn about the new Medicare
prescription drug benefit and make a choice. The grant will be used
to increase targeted outreach to hard-to-reach populations, so SHIP
volunteers can provide our state's seniors with easy-to-understand
information about the new Medicare options, as well as about state
and local prescription drug coverage and other health and long-term
care insurance options. The program plans to expand volunteer
training and increase awareness of programs through community
meetings and workshops. The program also plans to prepare and
distribute new informational materials.
Illinois seniors have many options
when it comes to state-funded insurance and prescription drugs
- I-SaveRx: Under I-SaveRx, refill prescriptions
may be ordered in three-month supplies from state-inspected and
approved suppliers in Canada, Ireland and the United Kingdom, with
savings of up to 50 percent. This program has no enrollment fees
and no requirements on age, income or residency.
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Breaker Pharmaceutical Assistance:
This program is available through the Illinois Department on Aging
to help seniors and disabled people purchase prescription medicine
for one of the following conditions: arthritis, diabetes, heart
conditions, high blood pressure, glaucoma, cancer, Alzheimer's
disease, Parkinson's disease and smoking-related illnesses.
Eligibility is limited to individuals whose income is less than
$21,218. In a two-person household, the income limit is $28,480,
and in a three-person or larger household, the income limit is
Rx Buying Club: Launched
on Jan. 1, 2004, the club is open to all Illinois residents age 65
or older and the disabled. Members pay an annual $10
administrative fee and can receive average savings of 24 percent
on prescription medications purchased at participating pharmacies.
The club also offers a mail-order service for larger savings.
There are no income restrictions and no prescription limits.
Illinois Comprehensive Health Insurance Plan:
This state-sponsored insurance program, known as CHIP, can
supplement Medicare coverage for people under 65 if they are
eligible for Medicare because of a disability. Any amount paid
under Medicare Parts A and B will reduce CHIP plan benefits.
- SeniorCare: This program is designed to help low-income seniors in Illinois
pay for the prescription drugs they need. Any Illinois senior can
enroll if his or her income is no more than $19,140 per year or
$25,660 if married. There is no enrollment fee. SeniorCare covers
most prescriptions and many over-the-counter drugs if a doctor
All SHIP offices are volunteer-based
and supported by local sponsoring organizations. SHIP is sponsored
by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation,
Division of Insurance, and is offered statewide to Medicare
consumers of all ages. SHIP is not affiliated with any
insurance company, and volunteer counselors do not sell or solicit
any type of insurance.
SHIP staffers are available to speak
to community-based organizations or groups of beneficiaries and can
be reached by calling (800) 548-9034.
[News release from the governor's