Medicare Rights Center a Q&A with Joe Baker, President

August 2016 | Joe Baker, President Medicare Rights Center

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“For over 25 years, we have been helping people with Medicare understand their rights and benefits, navigate the Medicare system, and secure the quality health care they deserve.”

What is the Medicare Rights Center?
The Medicare Rights Center is a national, nonprofit consumer service organization. We work to ensure access to affordable health care for older adults and people with disabilities through counseling and advocacy, educational programs, and public policy initiatives. The Medicare Rights Center is the largest and most reliable independent source of Medicare information and assistance in the United States.

What types of services do you provide?
We counsel people with Medicare, their families and caregivers, and professionals who serve them in both English and Spanish on our national Consumer Helpline. We screen all callers for Medicare cost-savings programs and enroll them when they qualify for low-income benefits. We also provide education through our community programs and online resources. Medicare Interactive, for example, is a free online resource that provides hundreds of answers to Medicare questions. We advocate to strengthen and protect Medicare through our policy initiatives, which are directly informed by our helpline and education experience.  For over 25 years, we have been helping people with Medicare understand their rights and benefits, navigate the Medicare system, and secure the quality health care they deserve.

What are the typical types of concerns that you hear through the National Helpline?
People who call the helpline are most commonly facing issues with access to and affordability of health care, including prescription drugs. We also hear from many people who are transitioning into Medicare and have questions such as when to enroll and how does Medicare work with other insurance, like employer coverage.

When someone contacts the National Helpline what can they expect?
People who call the helpline can expect one-on-one counseling from one of our highly trained dedicated volunteers or staff members. Counselors are well-versed in Medicare and provide clients with accurate information while helping them resolve their issues.

Tell us more about your outreach and service to LGBT older adults?
We partner with SAGE to provide LGBT older adults with information about Medicare through information panels, discussions, and educational materials. Through our Medicare Minute program, we are currently training SAGE volunteers to lead Medicare Rights-developed presentations at their events throughout New York City. We ensure that our educational resources are accurate and timely, such as our information about how people with Medicare are affected by marriage equality. The Medicare Rights Center supported the overturn of the Defense of Marriage Act and developed a fact sheet about its implications.

Is there anything that readers would be surprised to learn about the Medicare Rights Center?
Our highly trained volunteer helpline counselors make up nearly two-thirds of the Medicare Rights workforce.  They are integral to our work, providing exceptional service as counselors on our helpline and advocates in the field. Their dedication and commitment makes the Medicare Rights Center’s work possible! 

To learn more about the Medicare Rights Center visit their website.