Patricia Simino Boyce
Dennis Tartaglia/Rebecca Janoff
IPRO Launches Large-Scale Campaign to Address Lack of Public Awareness
Lake Success, NY, December 18, 2007 – The first New York State Medicare Quality of Care Complaints Report Card shows that few seniors file complaints – .01% of the state’s Medicare beneficiaries.1 The report is being released today by IPRO, 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 quality of care complaints and appeals to notices of non-coverage.
“This report is a call to action,” says Theodore O. Will, Chief Executive Officer, IPRO. “While New York has the second highest number of beneficiary complaints in the nation, we must do much more to educate seniors and their families about how to voice their concerns and use this valuable benefit.”
The report comes as IPRO launches “Your Health. Your Voice.” – a new campaign to increase New York seniors’ awareness of their right to file quality of care complaints. The campaign features outreach programs around the state, public service advertising, a publicity campaign, distribution of multilingual educational materials, a new multilingual Web site,www.YourHealthYourVoice.org, and a helpline, 1-866-391-4682. The New York campaign is one of four funded by CMS to determine the value of intensive public awareness efforts in educating seniors .
“We support this campaign, because we see the need to enhance of the quality of life for all of the aged in our state,” says Lois Aronstein, State Director, AARP New York. Among the ways AARP is supporting the campaign is through articles in its publications and outreach to its extensive membership network.
Report Shows Low Levels of Complaints
The report card found that only 343 – or .01% of the state’s almost 3 million Medicare beneficiaries – filed a complaint last year.
“While all numbers are small, we feel it important to place a special emphasis on minority and underserved communities,” says Janice Hidalgo, Outreach Coordinator, IPRO. Hidalgo and other outreach workers will be conducting multilingual educational presentations around the state for members of the public and health care professionals. They will also be partnering with community-based organizations to extend the program’s reach. All “Your Health. Your Voice.” materials are available in Spanish, and will soon be available in Chinese and Russian – the most common languages spoken in New York other than English. Translation services will be available on the helpline and Web site for these languages and others.
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.
“Many of these situations are preventable,” says Clare B. Bradley, MD, MPH, Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer, IPRO. “By exercising the right to file a complaint, seniors and their families can help einsure that the same thing doesn’t happen to others.”
Initiated by the beneficiary or family member, he or she calls the helpline and will be asked questions that allow the IPRO review case manager to better understand the quality of care concern. The patient will also be asked to submit the concern in writing; IPRO provides assistance in preparing the complaint when needed. This information will then be reviewed by medical experts, who will 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 did meet the professionally recognized standard of care, the beneficiary sometimes has additional options. One of these is called “alternate dispute resolution” or ADR.
For more information, to schedule a presentation or to download educational materials, please call 1-866-391-4682 or visit www/YourHealthYourVoice.org.
1Calculations may differ from other published counts; the above include all Medicare beneficiaries who were covered at any time during the defined twelve month period, among other variables.