SCAN Health Plan Arizona has unveiled an outreach program designed to help Arizona’s aging Hispanic population become more aware of its services for seniors. The program’s organizers say the goal of the effort is to help keep Hispanic Arizonans healthier and more independent for a longer period of time.
The outreach program works with other community organizations to deliver prevention and education programs and Spanish-language advertising materials to the state’s Hispanic media organizations. In addition, SCAN Health Plan Arizona will increase its participation in community health fairs, and will host open houses designed to attract Hispanic senior citizens.
Some Medicare patient advocates believe that new federal health reform legislation will result in reduced care for aging Hispanics. Under current regulations, they charge that a study by the Heritage Foundation shows as many as 41% of Arizona’s Hispanic seniors currently enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan will lose their coverage by 2017. This is in part due to changes in a beneficiary’s ability to enroll in Medicare Advantage plans when all of the health reform provisions are in effect.
Critics charge that beneficiaries who would have chosen Medicare Advantage plans under the old system will be barred from selecting that option under the new reform rules. The majority of persons affected by the change will be low-income and minority beneficiaries, many of whom are Hispanic. The Heritage Foundation report says that nearly 5 million Americans will either lose Medicare coverage altogether or will have their coverage significantly reduced, while their out-of-pocket expenses significantly increase.
SCAN hopes to reverse this and ensure that Medicare covers all Hispanic seniors in Arizona adequately by providing outreach programs in settings that are culturally sensitive, and in ways that eliminate the language barrier. The organization has already participated in one focus group study with Hispanic seniors and health care providers to better understand the concerns of Hispanic seniors and to make sure these concerns are addressed.
SCAN (Senior Care Action Network) is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing affordable, comprehensive health care and health care advocacy for all seniors. The group is also active in the State of California.