Local program receives awards

Team members of the Medicare Medicaid Assistance Program of the Region 9 Area Agency on Aging brought home several awards from an annual recognition event in Lansing Wednesday. Four members earned awards, as well as two receiving nominations.

Volunteers receiving awards on behalf of Region 9 were Jan Williamson of Roscommon County, Rookie of the Year; Sandy Allison, Otsego County, Volunteer MMAP Hours Award (highest number of hours given by a volunteer); Barbara Whalen, Montmorency County, MMAP Counseling Award for most client contacts (counseling hours) and a second award for conducting the most outreach events. All three women are program volunteers.

Sarah Skowronski, Otsego County, received an award for the most client contacts provided by someone who is not a volunteer. She works for the Otsego County Commission on Aging in the Client Advocacy Department. She works with beneficiaries as part of her daily job.

Receiving nominations for Team Member of the Year and Site Coordinator of the Year were Williamson and Ann Weir, respectively.

“Truly we are blessed to have such a dedicated group of knowledgeable, compassionate people who enjoy helping others,” Susan Eagling Bowen, regional coordinator of the MMAP, said.

The awards were based on achievements during the recently ended program year and offer a glimpse into the dedication of the MMAP counselors who provide free, unbiased counseling and education to Medicare beneficiaries.

Also attending in addition to the award recipients were Sandy Russell, Oscoda County; Earlene Chasse, Cheboygan County; Denise Parrott and Karen Meyers, Presque Isle County; Loretta Miller and John Panci, Otsego County; and Weir and Bowen, Alpena County.

The MMAP is a statewide program that assists people in navigating the complex world of Medicare and, in some instances, Medicaid. Team members – many of whom are volunteers – spend many hours helping beneficiaries understand their health care choices and rights. They can facilitate enrollments in Part D prescription plans, appeal a claims denial and apply for subsidies to help cover Medicare healthcare premiums.

“Each MMAP counselor goes through extensive training to ensure they are up-to-date on the latest issues with Medicare,” Bowen said. “They are a dedicated group of professionals and we are fortunate to have this program available to Medicare beneficiaries.”

To speak confidentially with a counselor about your Medicare concerns, call 800-803-7174.

Program funding is provided through a grant from the Michigan Office of Services to the Aging, through funding received from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and a grant from the Administration on Aging.