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New Grant Focuses on At-Risk People in 9 Rural Communities
Missouri Ag Connection - 02/07/2019

The Missouri Department of Insurance announced a new grant from the National Council on Aging's Center for Benefits Access (NCOA). The Benefit Enrollment Center (BEC) Grant provides funding for a twenty month period (January 2019 -- September 2020) to the Department to implement a Benefit Enrollment Center in nine rural Missouri counties.

Benefit Enrollment Centers (BEC) use person-centered strategies in a coordinated, community-wide approach to find and enroll Medicare beneficiaries--both seniors aged 65+ years and adults living with disabilities -- who have limited income and resources to access available benefits, with the primary focus being on the following five core benefit programs:

- Medicare Part D Extra Help (or Low-Income Subsidy, LIS)

- Medicare Savings Programs (MSP)

- Medicaid

- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly Food Stamps)

- Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)

A "person-centered" approach is one in which someone is screened for and assisted with applying for multiple benefits at one time, based on that individual's needs. Currently the department's CLAIM program assists Missourians with the first three of these core services through the State Health Insurance Program (SHIP) and the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act (MIPPA) funding. This additional grant will allow CLAIM to assist 1,000 individuals to apply for and receive much needed assistance for which they may qualify.

The BEC grant focuses on 9 rural counties, and senior and disabled individuals in those counties who are most in need of the services. The target area includes these central Missouri counties: Callaway, Camden, Cole, Laclede, Miller, Morgan, Moniteau, Osage and Pulaski.

The total population in these targeted counties is 328,992, of which:

- 77% are age 65 and older

- 42% have a disability (higher than MO at 14.44% and the US at 12.52%)

- 54% live at or below FPL. Per capita income is $23,004, below the MO average of $27,044;

- Over 17.25% of the population receives Medicaid

- 44% of the adult population, age 18-64, lacks health insurance

Current Medicare program data indicate there are 12,973 disabled individuals residing in this defined area, 15,881 are low-income, and 13,802 are estimated to need and be eligible for MSP.

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