January is Poverty Awareness Month

According to the U.S. Census, nearly 40 million Americans live in poverty, leaving little or nothing for extra or unexpected medical expenses. The CMS Office of Minority Health has created public education initiatives, such as From Coverage to Care, to help vulnerable populations learn how to access coverage, manage their health care costs and maximize benefits from the services provided.

We encourage our partners to use Poverty Awareness Month as an opportunity to learn more about healthcare access concerns for people with limited incomes and find ways to incorporate available resources from CMS and other federal programs into your ongoing outreach.

In the United States, discussion about how to improve health often turns to either access to care or health behaviors like smoking or diet. These things matter, but there are also many social and economic factors that compromise health and impair the ability to make healthful choices in the first place that should be considered.

Access the Institute for Research on Poverty’s Fact Sheet: Poor and In Poor Health.

This month, take some time to re-explore how poverty influences health, wellness and access to care. Think about how your programs can better reach and serve people with limited incomes, as well as how you can promote related federal resources, such as:

• Information on applying to Medicaid
• Programs for All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly, helping older people stay well at home and in their communities
• Information on Medicare Savings Programs
• From Coverage to Care, a resource to help people get the most benefit out of their health plans
• Supplemental Security Income, supplemental income for qualifying people over 65 without disabilities
• Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families

Additional resources and more information can be found on the CMS Web site