From 2002 to 2003, the Medicare Rights Center, New York, created and began pilot testing Medicare Interactive, a comprehensive online Medicare counseling, training and assistance system that primarily helps community-based agencies access health care benefits and services for their elderly and disabled clients.
The Medicare Rights Center is a national non-profit Medicare consumer service organization.
The complexity of the Medicare system is a barrier to accessing benefits for many elderly and disabled people, especially those who have low incomes, low education levels, and limited or no English proficiency.
In 1998, the Medicare Rights Center established CityNET (City Network, Education and Training Program) to help New York City counselors keep abreast of ever-changing Medicare regulations and benefits.
In Spring 2003, the staff at the Medicare Rights Center piloted a Medicare Interactive website (MI Counselor) at 10 community-based CityNET agencies operating at 24 sites in New York City.
In collaboration with the New York City Human Resources Administration, the center deputized partner agency staff to use MI Counselor to enroll clients directly in the Medicare Savings Plan, a low-income assistance program for Medicaid eligible Medicare beneficiaries. This eliminates the need for clients to go to the Medicaid office, a barrier to accessing these programs.