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Health insurance advisory service for medicare beneficiaries   

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(a) In general The Secretary of Health and Human Services shall establish a health insurance advisory service program (in this section referred to as the "beneficiary assistance program") to assist medicare-eligible individuals with the receipt of services under the medicare and medicaid programs and other health insurance programs.

(b) Outreach elements The beneficiary assistance program shall provide assistance -

(1) through operation using local Federal offices that provide information on the medicare program, (2) using community outreach programs, and (3) using a toll-free telephone information service.

(c) Assistance provided The beneficiary assistance program shall provide for information, counseling, and assistance for medicare-eligible individuals with respect to at least the following:

(1) With respect to the medicare program -

(A) eligibility, (B) benefits (both covered and not covered), (C) the process of payment for services, (D) rights and process for appeals of determinations, (E) other medicare-related entities (such as peer review organizations, fiscal intermediaries, and carriers), and (F) recent legislative and administrative changes in the medicare program.

(2) With respect to the medicaid program -

(A) eligibility, benefits, and the application process, (B) linkages between the medicaid and medicare programs, and (C) referral to appropriate State and local agencies involved in the medicaid program.

(3) With respect to medicare supplemental policies -

(A) the program under section 1395ss of this title and standards required under such program, (B) how to make informed decisions on whether to purchase such policies and on what criteria to use in evaluating different policies, (C) appropriate Federal, State, and private agencies that provide information and assistance in obtaining benefits under such policies, and (D) other issues deemed appropriate by the Secretary.

The beneficiary assistance program also shall provide such other services as the Secretary deems appropriate to increase beneficiary understanding of, and confidence in, the medicare program and to improve the relationship between beneficiaries and the program.

(d) Educational material The Secretary, through the Administrator of the Health Care Financing Administration, shall develop appropriate educational materials and other appropriate techniques to assist employees in carrying out this section.

(e) Notice to beneficiaries The Secretary shall take such steps as are necessary to assure that medicare-eligible beneficiaries and the general public are made aware of the beneficiary assistance program.

(f) Report The Secretary shall include, in an annual report transmitted to the Congress, a report on the beneficiary assistance program and on other health insurance informational and counseling services made available to medicare-eligible individuals. The Secretary shall include in the report recommendations for such changes as may be desirable to improve the relationship between the medicare program and medicare-eligible individuals.

(Pub. L. 101-508, title IV, Sec. 4359, Nov. 5, 1990, 104 Stat. 1388-137.)