An Update from Chairman Mike Colodny and the Meyerhoff Center Board of Directors: Florida Governor Celebrates Older Americans Month
May 21, 2010
The Office of Florida Governor Charlie Crist issued the following press release on May 20, 2010:
Governor Crist Celebrates Florida Seniors During Older Americans Month
~ Discusses seniors’ concerns and interests, highlights assistance for elder Floridians ~
MIAMI – In honor of Older Americans Month and in anticipation of Cuban Independence Day, Governor Charlie Crist today visited the Little Havana Activities and Nutrition Centers of Dade County Inc. The Governor spent time visiting with center participants, including many Cuban-Americans, and discussing issues important to all of Florida’s more than four million seniors.
“Florida’s seniors deserve our respect and admiration for helping build our state’s rich and diverse heritage,” said Governor Crist. “I remain committed to helping enrich the lives of Florida’s seniors because they have enriched our lives by strengthening our families and communities as volunteers, as parents, as grandparents, and as advocates.”
During his visit, Governor Crist used the opportunity to promote a Medicare program called “Extra Help,” which assists eligible elders and individuals with disabilities by making life-saving medications more affordable. Thousands of Floridians are eligible for the program designed for individuals enrolled in a Medicare prescription drug (Part D) plan, but are still not taking advantage of the drug cost relief.
For more information about Extra Help, seniors can call Florida’s Elder Helpline toll-free at 1-800-96-ELDER (1-800-963-5337) and ask to speak with a SHINE (Serving the Health Insurance Needs of Elders) counselor. To qualify for Extra Help, Floridians should contact the Social Security Administration toll-free at 1-800-772-1213, or visit a local Social Security office or the Department of Children and Families. Individuals can also apply online at www.socialsecurity.gov/extrahelp.
In addition to Extra Help, Governor Crist highlighted the following elder initiatives developed during his administration:
- Helping provide access to affordable prescription drugs – The Florida Discount Drug Card, initially offered to qualifying seniors or low-income families and individuals beginning in December 2007, is now available to all Florida residents. Florida residents who meet the original qualifying criteria are eligible for additional savings in the form of manufacturer rebates. Since the launch of the program in December 2007, more than 145,700 Floridians have enrolled in the program for a savings of more than $6.4 million. Floridians have already saved an average of 36 percent on drugs purchased in 2010, an increase from 31 percent in 2009. Floridians can request a Florida Discount Drug Card by visiting www.FloridaDiscountDrugCard.com or by calling 1-866-341-8894 or TTY 1-866-763-9630.
- Meeting the need for affordable health insurance – Cover Florida Health Care offers affordable, quality health insurance coverage and access to uninsured Floridians age 19 to 64. In its first two years of availability, more than 6,000 Floridians have enrolled in Cover Florida Health Care. As of March 31, 2010, 53 percent of policyholders are over age 50, including 29 percent who are age 51 to 59 and 24 percent who are age 60 to 64.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida and United Healthcare are available in all 67 Florida counties with additional insurers available in Broward, Miami-Dade, Volusia, and Flagler counties. Each plan has a robust set of benefit options that include coverage for preventive services, screenings and office visits, as well as office surgery, urgent care, hospital coverage, emergency care, prescription drugs, durable medical equipment, and diabetic supplies. For more information about Cover Florida, visit www.CoverFloridaHealthCare.com.
- Keeping seniors safe – in October 2008, Governor Crist signed Executive Order 08-211 creating the Silver Alert, an immediate statewide broadcast of information to the public regarding missing elders with dementia or other cognitive impairment. Silver Alerts help local law enforcement more quickly find missing seniors and return them to safety. Twenty-eight missing endangered adults have been recovered as a direct result of the alert as of April 30, 2010.
About Florida’s Seniors
About 4.4 million people over age 60 live in Florida. That number is expected to grow to 5.6 million by 2020. The average Florida retiree contributes $2,000 more in revenues than he or she consumes in public services.