Since going into a protracted period of silence as The Grumpy Retiree, I’ve been getting trained to become a GeorgiaCares volunteer working with the local coordinator of the the State Health Insurance Assistance Program, or SHIP. Once our summer vacations are done, I would have started working with local folks needing help signing up for Medicare, Medicare Advantage, Medigap and Medicare Part D plans. I would have also work with folks running into billing and service problems connected with those programs. My plan was to stop being grumpy and just focus on helping people, most of whom actually need a lot more help than us University System of Georgia retirees.
Well, that may not last for long. Recently I took a look at a story on NPR that, if anything, made me madder than our Regents’ decision to cut us adrift from their health insurance plan. Its headline: “Federal Program That Helps Patients Navigate Medicare May Be Cut.” Seems like the $52 million provided through the federal budget to operate the SHIP program in every state helping something like 7 million people was just too much money being wasted on older Americans.
Never mind that the only people funded through the program were the state and regional coordinators and trainers of people like me who were volunteering their time and efforts. Nearly all the help to retirees is/was provided through unpaid volunteers. To put it bluntly, what Congress is on track to do is simply nothing.
So call, write or email your House and Senate representatives about this shameful development. Push them to restore that relatively tiny appropriation supporting the SHIP program before the full Senate and House acts. And, let candidates for office hear from you about this. Let’s not let them off the hook.
Wisenbaker has written for Flagpole under the pen name The Grumpy Retiree about privatization of UGA retiree health insurance benefits.