80.3 F
Charlotte Amalie
Sunday, May 22, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesHealth Symposium Applauds Efforts of Its Founder

Health Symposium Applauds Efforts of Its Founder

Medicaid director for the V.I. Paul Ritzma and Doris Farrington-Hepburn at Friday's disability discussion.Lt. Gov. Gregory R. Francis was lauded Friday by health care experts at the three-day Health Symposium at Divi Carina Bay Beach Resort & Casino, where 180 people were registered to attend.

In its fourth year, the Virgin Islands State Health Care Insurance Plan (VI-SHIP) symposium partnered with the New York Regional Office of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to discuss how make the territory can lower its costs while providing the best medical care possible.

While CMS has been coming to Virgin Islands for years, it was only since Francis created the symposium that things began to change for the better, said Norma Harris, a health insurance specialist with CMS. Great strides have been made in improving Medicare services in particular.

“The symposium became a source of information – a place to network and highlight all the issues here,” Harris said. “It’s become a place where people can connect to work toward improving the health of people in the Virgin Islands.”

Advertising (skip)
Advertising (skip)
Advertising (skip)
Advertising (skip)
Advertising (skip)

This year, CMS is trying to streamline the process of getting Medicare supplements for the territory’s 6,000 beneficiaries. Other states have additional options for how to receive Medicare which makes it easier for certain people to get enrolled. But the V.I. doesn’t have supplemental plans, and Harris wants to change that.

“The Virgin Islands is our greatest challenge because they have the least variety of access to care,” she said.

Harris said that CMS employees met with government officials Wednesday in a pre-symposium meeting to discuss the possible change. She said that Lt. Gov. Francis seemed very supportive of their ideas.

One positive change this year has been the new open-enrollment dates. Formerly from Nov. 15 to Dec. 31, they are now from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. This is beneficial because it will hopefully allow more people to enroll because it does not fall during the peak holiday season.

“It will give us more time to get paperwork into the system and get more people involved,” said CMS Associate Regional Administrator Reginald Slaten.

This year is also the first time the symposium focused on disabilities. The bulk of Friday was spent on services available for persons with disability. From vocational rehabilitation to transportation services, each entity said they want to provide services at little cost to people with disabilities.

Paul Ritzma, the director of Medicaid in the territory, is trying to make it easier for enrollments for people with disabilities. “The Medicaid program has to look at integrating all programs to provide the best health care for people with disabilities,” he said.

Every year the symposium gets larger and more participants are getting involved, and while this is good for the community, Harris said that it presents a challenge trying to adapt to an ever-growing agenda.

VI-SHIP Director and Medicare Coordinator Rena Sarauw, who organized this year’s event, thinks the continual growth is great. She was pleased that so many community members and health care providers got involved.

“The lieutenant governor is just very dedicated to improving the health care for all residents in the Virgin Islands, and this symposium is just one way to keep people involved,” Sarauw said.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Keeping our community informed is our top priority.
If you have a news tip to share, please call or text us at 340-228-8784.




Support local + independent journalism in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Unlike many news organizations, we haven't put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as accessible as we can. Our independent journalism costs time, money and hard work to keep you informed, but we do it because we believe that it matters. We know that informed communities are empowered ones. If you appreciate our reporting and want to help make our future more secure, please consider donating.

STAY CONNECTED

20,771FansLike
4,719FollowersFollow

FROM FACEBOOK

Comments Box SVG iconsUsed for the like, share, comment, and reaction icons
Load more

Medicaid director for the V.I. Paul Ritzma and Doris Farrington-Hepburn at Friday's disability discussion.Lt. Gov. Gregory R. Francis was lauded Friday by health care experts at the three-day Health Symposium at Divi Carina Bay Beach Resort & Casino, where 180 people were registered to attend.

In its fourth year, the Virgin Islands State Health Care Insurance Plan (VI-SHIP) symposium partnered with the New York Regional Office of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to discuss how make the territory can lower its costs while providing the best medical care possible.

While CMS has been coming to Virgin Islands for years, it was only since Francis created the symposium that things began to change for the better, said Norma Harris, a health insurance specialist with CMS. Great strides have been made in improving Medicare services in particular.

“The symposium became a source of information – a place to network and highlight all the issues here,” Harris said. “It’s become a place where people can connect to work toward improving the health of people in the Virgin Islands.”

This year, CMS is trying to streamline the process of getting Medicare supplements for the territory’s 6,000 beneficiaries. Other states have additional options for how to receive Medicare which makes it easier for certain people to get enrolled. But the V.I. doesn’t have supplemental plans, and Harris wants to change that.

“The Virgin Islands is our greatest challenge because they have the least variety of access to care,” she said.

Harris said that CMS employees met with government officials Wednesday in a pre-symposium meeting to discuss the possible change. She said that Lt. Gov. Francis seemed very supportive of their ideas.

One positive change this year has been the new open-enrollment dates. Formerly from Nov. 15 to Dec. 31, they are now from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. This is beneficial because it will hopefully allow more people to enroll because it does not fall during the peak holiday season.

“It will give us more time to get paperwork into the system and get more people involved,” said CMS Associate Regional Administrator Reginald Slaten.

This year is also the first time the symposium focused on disabilities. The bulk of Friday was spent on services available for persons with disability. From vocational rehabilitation to transportation services, each entity said they want to provide services at little cost to people with disabilities.

Paul Ritzma, the director of Medicaid in the territory, is trying to make it easier for enrollments for people with disabilities. “The Medicaid program has to look at integrating all programs to provide the best health care for people with disabilities,” he said.

Every year the symposium gets larger and more participants are getting involved, and while this is good for the community, Harris said that it presents a challenge trying to adapt to an ever-growing agenda.

VI-SHIP Director and Medicare Coordinator Rena Sarauw, who organized this year’s event, thinks the continual growth is great. She was pleased that so many community members and health care providers got involved.

“The lieutenant governor is just very dedicated to improving the health care for all residents in the Virgin Islands, and this symposium is just one way to keep people involved,” Sarauw said.