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Milly Quezada, 'Queen of Merengue,' to Launch Partnership to Educate Latino Seniors About Health Care Rights

'Su Salud. Su Voz.' Campaign to Address Lack of Public Awareness of Right

to File Medicare Quality of Care Complaints

LAKE SUCCESS, N.Y., Feb. 12 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- "Merengue Queen" Milly Quezada will join leaders of health care organizations and senior groups, along with public officials today at Manhattan's El Museo del Barrio to launch the Su Salud. Su Voz. Partnership to educate Latino seniors about their right to file Medicare quality of care complaints.

Ms. Quezada will serve as honorary chair of the partnership, which consists of IPRO, the Institute for the Puerto Rican/Hispanic Elderly, AARP New York and the New York City Department for the Aging. Media sponsors are El Diario La Prensa and Univision Radio. The partnership will help extend the Latino community reach of IPRO's campaign, Your Health. Your Voice. (Su Salud. Su Voz.), which seeks to raise New York seniors' awareness of their complaint rights under Medicare.

"We are excited to have such a respected artist, and such influential organizations, help us lead this campaign in the Latino community," says Clare B. Bradley, MD, MPH, Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer, IPRO. "We look forward to partnering with them to make the state's Latino seniors aware of their complaint rights." IPRO is a New York-based not-for-profit organization that contracts with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to improve the quality of health care provided to the state's Medicare beneficiaries, and to resolve beneficiary complaints and appeals. IPRO is contracting with CMS to conduct this educational campaign, with a special emphasis on minority and medically underserved communities.

A recent report by IPRO showed that, while New York has the second highest complaint rate in the nation, few of the state's seniors file complaints: 343, or .01% of the state's nearly 3 million Medicare beneficiaries filed complaints in 2007. While the overall numbers are extremely low, Latino complaints are among the lowest: only 4 Latino seniors statewide filed a complaint last year.

"The Institute for Puerto Rican/Hispanic Elderly is proud to support this partnership to educate Latino seniors in New York," says Suleika Cabrera Drinane, MSW, President and CEO of the Institute. "Seniors have the right to express their concerns if they feel the quality of their health care is lacking. Our goal is to educate and empower them to use these rights." The Institute is a not-for-profit organization that affirms, protects and empowers elderly minority populations by ensuring that their needs are met under the law. Multilingual and multicultural services are provided by the Institute to 140,000 seniors and their families each year.

"It's important that every older New Yorker is empowered and knows their Medicare health care rights," said Commissioner Edwin Mendez-Santiago, LCSW. "The Department for the Aging is proud to join IPRO, the Institute for the Puerto Rican/Hispanic Elderly, and AARP New York to raise awareness and educate the Latino elder community around Medicare quality-of-care issues."

"AARP is a partner in this campaign not just for the state's senior citizens, but for the growing number of Baby Boomers who support and act as advocates for their aging parents," says Lois Aronstein, State Director, AARP New York. "We hope that this campaign will improve the health care system for everyone, in all age groups." Among the ways AARP is supporting the campaign is through articles in its publications and outreach to its extensive membership network.

Milly Quezada Records PSA: Latino Seniors "Have a Voice"

As part of her support for the campaign, Ms. Quezada has recorded radio public service announcements (PSAs), which will be released today. Telling the state's seniors that they "have a voice," the spots urge them to call the Su Salud. Su Voz. help line, 1-866-391-4682, and to visit the campaign Web site, ( The site features both audio and video versions of the PSA.

Milly Quezada is known internationally as "Queen of Merengue." Born in the Dominican Republic, Ms. Quezada's musical style manifested itself in the streets of Washington Heights, where she formed the group "Milly Jocelyn & Los Vecinos" in 1975, along with her siblings and soon-to-be husband Rafael Vasquez. The death of her husband in 1996 led to her solo career. In 2006 she won a Latin Grammy Award for her album MQ. She also played a supporting role in the motion picture Yuniol, which was released last summer.

What is a Quality of Care Complaint?

A quality of care complaint can be made about a number of issues, including receiving the wrong medication or treatment, sustaining a serious injury while in a nursing home or hospital, or developing bed sores from not being moved regularly. Cases are reviewed by medical experts, who determine if the care given was necessary and appropriate. If the expert reviewer finds that care did not meet appropriate quality standards, IPRO can request a quality improvement plan from the health care provider. IPRO then works with the provider to monitor and provide technical assistance on the plan's implementation. If IPRO determines that the medical provider met the professionally recognized standard of care, the beneficiary sometimes has additional options.

Contact: Dennis Tartaglia/Rebecca Janoff


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