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Department of Aging Recognizes Volunteers for Helping Medicare Beneficiaries

Medicare Annual Open Enrollment Period Begins Friday

10/13/2021

Harrisburg, PA –The Pennsylvania Department of Aging (PDA) today hosted a news conference to acknowledge the Pennsylvania Medicare Education and Decision Insight (PA MEDI) volunteers, the known and trusted community resource for Medicare information for Pennsylvania's Medicare beneficiaries.

"I'm so grateful for the flexibility, dedication and hard work of all the PA MEDI volunteers, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. The volunteers quickly shifted to virtual and phone meetings when in-person interactions with Medicare beneficiaries couldn't take place," said Susan Neff, PA MEDI director. "Having such a large, dedicated volunteer force allows us to maximize PA MEDI's reach to those most in need of our services. With the Medicare Annual Open Enrollment Period starting on Friday, PA MEDI volunteers and staff are available and committed to assisting older adults with any questions and concerns they have about their Medicare plan options for 2022."

Over the past year, nearly 650 PA MEDI volunteers housed in local Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) contributed approximately 35,000 hours of service by assisting Medicare-eligible older adults, their families, and caregivers to help them make informed decisions about their healthcare. PA MEDI volunteers also provide educational presentations to community groups, individuals and at Health Fairs and Senior Expos.

Through local Area Agencies on Aging, PA MEDI provides free, confidential, objective, and easy-to-understand information about Medicare Advantage Plans, prescription drug plans, and Medicare Supplemental plans, Medicare appeals, and Medicare eligibility. PA MEDI counselors can assist Medicare beneficiaries with plan comparisons, help with enrollment in a new plan, and help evaluate eligibility for any of Pennsylvania's Medicare cost-savings programs.

"Volunteering for PA MEDI is the most rewarding challenge. It takes dedication, an open mind, and a thirst for knowledge. The very best part of volunteering for PA MEDI is the educational assistance to a person who can make an informed decision that best suits their healthcare needs. Once I became Medicare "educated" through the training and mentoring; I became aware that PA MEDI is the best kept secret for our retirees," said Lisa Bollinger, PA MEDI volunteer through the Mifflin/Juniata Counties AAA.

"It is extremely gratifying to meet people who are so grateful for the service you are providing. The work is intellectually stimulating, and you feel as though you are positively contributing to society. There is a large void when it comes to understanding the intricacies of Medicare. You will be astonished at the level of gratitude people will have towards you for what you are doing," said Donald Soslow, PA MEDI volunteer through the Delaware County AAA.

Individuals wishing to learn more about volunteer opportunities for PA MEDI and other Department of Aging programs in their communities can here. Additionally, PDA recently launched a page on its website for older adults to find PA MEDI events and programs in their local county.

"Many PA MEDI volunteer counselors started off as Medicare beneficiaries themselves. After learning about PA MEDI and how it could benefit them, these older adults felt they wanted to learn more about how they could share that knowledge with others. By becoming experts, these volunteers are providing the best guidance to beneficiaries who can be confident in knowing the best options are available to them," said Secretary of Aging Robert Torres. "On behalf of the Department of Aging, I would like to thank the volunteers for their time and compassionate dedication with helping older adults navigate through the Medicare options year-round."

The Medicare Annual Open Enrollment Period begins October 15 and ends on December 7. Medicare beneficiaries are encouraged to contact their local Area Agency on Aging to schedule an appointment with a PA MEDI Counselor for assistance during this time when beneficiaries can join, switch, or drop Medicare Advantage or Prescription Drug Coverage.

In addition to PA MEDI events and programs, older adults can learn more about PA MEDI on the Department of Aging's website or by calling the PA MEDI Helpline at 1-800-783-7067, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

 

MEDIA CONTACT: Jack Eilber, agingcomms@pa.gov

 

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