Politics & policy

Insight into federal and state health care legislation & CMS regulation

Medicare+Choice Draws Nearer; Groups Scramble

With Medicare+Choice a little more than three months from becoming reality, health care providers and Medicare recipients alike are taking steps to prepare for the program's launch.

The Health Care Financing Administration has begun accepting applications from health plans and providers that want to participate in the Medicare+Choice program. Applications can be obtained online at http://www.hcfa.gov/medicare/apps.htm.

As for Medicare recipients, a recent national study suggested that most of them don't understand their options under Medicare+Choice.

On the heels of congressional criticism that HCFA has been slow to get information about the program into the hands of recipients, the agency is launching a major education program later this year to familiarize beneficiaries with managed care and Medicare +Choice.

Key elements of the outreach effort include mass distribution of a 40-page handbook and toll-free telephone response lines. In addition, there will be an Internet World Wide Web site and an extensive public and private alliance to disseminate critical information about the program to beneficiaries.

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