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Seniors Encouraged To Make Use Of Medicare’s Freebie

An initiative focused on motivating seniors and others with Medicare to make the most of Medicare’s preventive services, //was kicked- off by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The campaign is titled: A Healthier US Starts Here.

It has been decided that during the spring and summer, the Medicare Prevention tour bus will visit each of the 48 states to promote conversations between people with Medicare, families, caregivers, health professionals, and community organizations.

Many disease prevention advocates, employers, and civic and state leaders have joined efforts to create awareness of disease prevention and wellness.

Says HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt:"Preventive health care can help people live healthier lives and can help reduce costs associated with treating chronic disease. From Seattle to Miami and Boston to San Diego, A Healthier US Starts Here will enlist the support of local organizations to help Medicare beneficiaries and all Americans learn how to live longer, healthier, and happier lives.”

Leavitt and CMS Acting Administrator Leslie V. Norwalk presented data at the launch, showing that the increased use of Medicare preventive benefits can help prevent and detect chronic diseases early in their course, when they are most treatable, and can indeed save lives.

Leavitt noted that Americans spend about $3.8 billion for diabetes-related hospitalizations. Roughly two-thirds of that expense could have been avoided with appropriate primary care, he says, yet only about half of all Medicare beneficiaries reported having their blood sugar tested in the past year.

This particular test is free, and so are the supplies and training that beneficiaries get to help them manage diabetes.

In another example, the five-year survival rate for people with early detection of colorectal cancer exceeds 90 percent. Yet, only about 59 percent of beneficiaries say they've had a colonoscopy.

Currently, Medicare provides health insurance coverage to about 43 million seniors and the disabled.

The first week of the campaign will focus on events in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Maine and Connecticut.

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