SHIP awarded additional grant funding The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) today announced the second installment of funding to the South Dakota State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) to help Medicare beneficiaries in South Dakota get more information about their health care choices. South Dakotaâ�?�?s SHIP is known as Senior Health Information and Insurance Education (SHIINE). SHIINE will receive $112,474 in June as part of the $15 million distributed to SHIPs, which is the second installment of more than $50 million that will be provided to SHIPs across the United States in 2008. Of the $50 million, $36 million was distributed on April 1 and an additional $1.5 million will be distributed in performance-based awards to SHIPs in September. The total SHIP funding in 2008 represents a $20 million increase in funding over fiscal year 2007. The South Dakota SHIINE received $251,657 in regular funding on April 1. â�?�?State health insurance assistance programs fill an important role in providing information and support to people with Medicare in their communities across the nation,â�? said CMS Acting Administrator Kerry Weems. â�?�?In addition to answering beneficiariesâ�?�? questions about Medicare, this yearâ�?�?s funding should further the SHIPsâ�?�? efforts to reach those people who are most likely eligible for extra help paying the costs of Medicare prescription drug coverage, and assist them in applying for extra help.â�? SHIPs are state-based programs that use community-based networks to provide Medicare beneficiaries with local, personalized assistance on a wide variety of Medicare and health insurance topics. A significant accomplishment of the SHIPs has been their success in helping to educate many of the nationâ�?�?s 44 million Medicare beneficiaries about Medicare, including their prescription drug coverage options so that they can make a choice about their health care that best meets their needs. CMS expects the SHIPs to use the increased 2008 funding to conduct targeted community-based outreach to beneficiaries who may be unable to access other sources of information such as the CMS online tools at www.medicare.gov. SHIPs will continue their outreach and assistance to current and newly eligible Medicare beneficiaries and their caregivers, as well as reaching out to beneficiaries with limited incomes who may be eligible for the extra help. South Dakota will use grants funds in part for improved technology to improve outreach, for expanded work with Indian Health Services and Tribal representatives, and for additional assistance to the Retired Senior Volunteer Program and the Cooperative Extension Service, which provide outreach services to South Dakotans statewide. CMS will continue to support the SHIPs in 54 states and territories with training and technical assistance. This will help to ensure that the community network remains fully capable of accessing and using all of CMSâ�?�? regional offices and online tools to provide assistance to beneficiaries.