West Virginia’s Medicare information, counseling, and assistance program began in 1992. It was part of a nationwide initiative resulting from the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990 to establish Medicare counseling in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. For many years each program operated under a different name; in 2004, however, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (the funding agency) established SHIPs—State Health Insurance Assistance Programs—in order to make the country’s programs immediately recognizable and the names uniform.
On December 8, 2003, the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement and Modernization Act (MMA) became law. The MMA represents the most significant improvements to Medicare since the program was created in 1965.
Although most SHIPs across the country are manned by volunteers, WV SHIP’s 80+ professional counselors are paid employees of the Bureau of Senior Services, the Area Agencies on Aging via the Aging & Disability Resource Centers, or the county aging providers (senior centers).