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05/15/2019

Department of Aging Presents BRAVO Awards at APPRISE Annual Conference

State College, PA – Today, the Pennsylvania Department of Aging APPRISE program held its 2019 Annual Conference where six notable local APPRISE teams were recognized for their service to Medicare beneficiaries with BRAVO awards.

This year's theme was The Faces of Medicare: Different Like You, and featured keynote speaker Erika Gold-Kestenberg, Ph.D.; a discussion of military benefits and Medicare with regional coordinator Eileen Goodwin; a question and answer session with John Johnston of the Social Security Administration; information about agents and brokers from Dave Buono of the Pennsylvania Insurance Department; and a conversation about medical marijuana with pharmacist Annie Conner of Maitri Medicinals.

APPRISE is a free health insurance counseling program designed to help Medicare beneficiaries understand the program. With over 700 trained APPRISE volunteers in the commonwealth, Medicare beneficiaries are provided with objective, easy-to-understand information about Medicare Supplemental Insurance, Medicare Advantage Plan, and prescription drug plans to empower themselves, their families, and caregivers to make well-informed healthcare benefit decisions.

"This annual conference gives us the opportunity to acknowledge and honor our APPRISE volunteers," said Acting Secretary of Aging Robert Torres. "Navigating healthcare insurance and Medicare options can be an overwhelming process for anyone, so we are fortunate to have such dedicated APPRISE teams within our network of Area Agencies on Aging who can provide assistance to Pennsylvania's older adults."

Six local APPRISE teams were presented with BRAVO awards in honor of their extraordinary work in areas of client service, program performance, collaboration with community partners, and innovation. Awardees include:

Lebanon County Team: Secretary Award. The most prestigious award for an APPRISE local team, Lebanon County earned this for all-around excellence in the areas of collaboration, innovation, performance and client service. It is especially notable that the volunteers stepped up in the absence of a local APPRISE coordinator and kept the program operating at nearly the same level of performance until a new coordinator was hired.

Butler County Team: Delta Award for diligence and hard work that resulted in marked performance improvement in their program. Their diligence and hard work is reflected by the challenges they are willing to take on, the hours they are willing to put in, and energy they bring to what they do to "brand" the program and make it successful.

Centre County Team: Collaboration Award for showing excellence in collaboration and team effort, ensuring Medicare beneficiaries are well served and filling in where there is need. Especially notable is the volunteers stepping up to help a new local APPRISE coordinator become acclimated to their position by providing constant and ongoing support and encouragement.

Somerset County Team: Performance Award earned by receiving an excellent rating in all required federal performance measures, as well as for their conscientiousness in going above and beyond on state-level and local initiatives.

Lawrence County Team: Client Service Award for the dedication, commitment, and concern provided to helping the Medicare beneficiaries with all of their needs, as well as keeping up to date on all aspects of Medicare in order to assist the Medicare beneficiaries in the best way possible.

Beaver County Team: Innovation Award for taking a state-level initiative and making it their own along with forging a new partnership, as well as each volunteer contributing their talents to specific projects.

The Department of Aging recently released a short video about APPRISE volunteers and how they help beneficiaries make the best possible decision for their needs. As a result of the APPRISE volunteer workforce, over 195,000 individuals received free, impartial insurance counseling in 2017-18.

For more information regarding the APPRISE Program, call 1-800-783-7067, or visit aging.pa.gov/insurance.

Media Contact: Rachel Wrigley, 717-783-6210

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