Administration uses Medicare grants to spread the word about healthcare reform

State-based programs that help spread the word about Medicare benefits will have to increase beneficiaries' awareness about benefits of the healthcare reform law in order to get federal grants next year, the Medicare agency announced Thursday. 

Fiscal 2011 grants for State Health Insurance Assistance Programs will require that beneficiaries be made aware of "certain provisions" in the law, including "new Medicare prevention and wellness benefits, fraud initiatives, including how beneficiaries can help with fraud detection and reporting, and annual election period changes for 2011."

The programs provide one-on-one counseling, information, education and outreach to help beneficiaries understand their Medicare benefits.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services made $45 million in grants and support contracts available to 54 programs in 2010, and expects that all of them will reapply in 2011. Applications are due Feb. 16, 2011.