Nearly $227,000 of new funding is being distributed to the Vermont State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) to help Medicare beneficiaries in Vermont get more information about their health care choices.The funds are part of the $35.8 million being distributed to the 54 SHIPs that provide Medicare beneficiaries with local, personalized assistance on a wide variety of Medicare and health insurance topics. The Vermont State Health Insurance Program serves an important role in providing information and support to people with Medicare all across Vermont, said CMS Acting Administrator Charlene Frizzera. This new funding will help to ensure that the Vermont SHIP continues to work with local governments, community-based organizations and other partners in Vermont to help meet the needs of our Medicare beneficiaries.CMS expects the SHIPs to use the 2009 funding to conduct targeted community-based outreach to people with Medicare who may be unable to access other sources of information. SHIPs will also provide outreach and assistance to current and newly eligible Medicare beneficiaries and their caregivers, with a special emphasis on reaching people who will most likely be eligible for Medicare s low-income subsidy if they enroll in Medicare prescription drug coverage.The Vermont State Health Insurance Program will use grant funds in part to continue to partner with the Vermont Center for Independent Living, disease advocacy groups, community action agencies, public welfare offices, veteran s groups and faith-based organizations to reach beneficiaries under the age of 65 with disabilities. The Vermont SHIP will also focus on hard to reach rural populations by working with case management staff, nutrition and information and assistance specialists and family caregiver specialists at the Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) across the state.CMS will continue to support the quality of services provided by SHIPs through training, technical assistance, the SHIP Resource Center, and the online tools at www.medicare.gov(link is external) to assist people with Medicare.