|TRAFICANT, James A., Jr.,|
Youngstown, Ohio – U.S. Rep. James A. Traficant, Jr. (D–OH) wants to make sure senior citizens in the Mahoning Valley are aware of recent changes in Medicare service providers in Ohio. To ensure that Valley senior citizens are getting the right information about these changes, Traficant today issued the following statement:
"Under the Balanced Budget Act of 1998, Congress mandated that Medicare develop and implement a Medicare beneficiary education program. Ohio was one of five states chosen to pilot test the National Medicare Education Program. The program is made up of eight components: a beneficiary mailing, toll-free phone service, Internet activities, national train-the-trainer program, national publicity campaign, state- and community-based special information campaigns, increased funding to State Health Insurance Assistance Programs, and assessment of this education model. The first leg of the Program, the Medicare & You handbook, was mailed to all Medicare beneficiaries in early November. If you are a Medicare beneficiary, and do not receive a copy of Medicare & You, please feel free contact my office.
Unfortunately, because the Medicare handbook went into production this summer, it does not reflect recent changes in service providers. Several health plans have decided not to renew their contracts or reduce the areas that they currently serve for the next year. In the Mahoning Valley, United HealthCare has decided to discontinue its service in Trumbull County. Mahoning and Columbiana counties remain unaffected.
For Medicare beneficiaries currently under the United HealthCare plan, the following Medicare managed care plans will accept your enrollment in November 1998 and go into effect in January 1999:
• Aetna of Ohio - (800) 640-4986, 615 Elsnore Place, Ste. 800, Cincinnati, OH 45202
• Anthem - (800) 467-8065, 4361 Irwin Simpson Road, Mason, OH 45040
• Cigna Healthcare for Seniors - (800) 769-1830, 5005 Rockside Road, Suite 700, Independence, OH 44131
United HealthCare beneficiaries will return to the original Medicare fee-for-service plan automatically unless they enroll in a managed care plan above. United HealthCare beneficiaries may return to the original Medicare plan prior to January 1999, if they so choose, by submitting a written request to disenroll to United HealthCare. Beneficiaries that choose to return to the original Medicare plan and would like to purchase a supplemental, or Medigap, health insurance policy may contact AARP Medicare Supplemental Plans, underwritten by United HealthCare, at (800)245-1212, operator ID #26.
If you have questions about any aspect of Medicare, various resources are at your disposal. In addition to the Medicare & You handbook, Medicare has a toll-free number, (800)-MEDICARE. Customer service representatives are available from 8:00am to 4:00pm weekly, and a voice response unit is available 24 hours. For copies of the Medical Savings Accounts brochure, call (800) 318-2596. For those that have Internet access, updated information about Medicare is available at http://www.medicare.gov Finally, please feel free to contact my office with any questions, comments, or suggestions you may have."