News & Events

In November, the Washington Post published an article from Kaiser Health News alerting Medicare beneficiaries to important cost information uncovered about some Part D plans. That discovery was made by Senior PharmAssist. You can read the article by clicking here.

Medicare's annual election period for 2014 was our busiest AEP ever. The results from that seven-week sign-up provide fresh evidence why our mantra "it pays to compare" rings as true as ever. Senior PharmAssist staff and amazing SHIIP (Seniors' Health Insurance Information Program) volunteers provided 896 face-to-face counseling sessions during AEP. Our findings include:

  • For the fifth consecutive year, two-thirds of folks with a stand-alone Part D plan needed to switch coverage to save money
  • Switchers obtained a mean projected savings of $661; Medicare beneficiaries whom we saw for the first time and who switched plans realized an average savings of almost $900
  • All told, Senior PharmAssist saved Medicare beneficiaries $270,000 in projected medication costs for 2014
  • Unique to our program, our clinical pharmacists continued to work with our insurance counselors to review for potential medication problems and intervened when necessary

Senior PharmAssist Executive Director Gina Upchurch led a continuing education session on Oct. 15th to prepare pharmacists and pharmacy technicians for Medicare drug benefits in 2014. Gina examined the differences between traditional Medicare and Medicare Advantage products. More than 40 attendees received information about local, statewide, and federal resources that can help with Medicare Part D, including the Seniors' Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP). There was also an update on how health reform impacts Medicare and how pharmacists are getting involved in new clinical initiatives. For those who couldn't attend the pharmacy CE, Gina made the same presentation via webinar on Oct. 24th, in partnership with the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy.

Other News

On April 18th, the state Seniors' Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP) announced that Durham is the "SHIIP County of the Year." Senior PharmAssist is SHIIP's coordinating site in Durham County and was recognized for providing high-quality prescription and health insurance counseling to more than 1,300 beneficiaries from April 1, 2012 to March 31, 2013.

Senior PharmAssist Community Services Director Dyana Morgan, our SHIIP coordinator, accepted the award from Van Braxton, the new SHIIP Deputy Commissioner at the NC Department of Insurance. The award was announced at the NC Association on Aging Annual Training Conference in Raleigh. We thank SHIIP for this acknowledgment, and we are especially grateful to all the SHIIP-trained volunteers who help us provide individuals in Durham with face-to-face Medicare insurance counseling.

The objective, reliable information helps Durham Medicare beneficiaries make informed medical and prescription coverage decisions. This puts money back into individuals' pockets, prevents potential financial ruin by not having adequate medical and prescription coverage, and ensures access to care that can be critical to support health.

We will continue to work to improve the health literacy of all Medicare beneficiaries in Durham, and we simply cannot do it without terrific volunteers. Current Senior PharmAssist SHIIP volunteers are: Lynne Alexander, Shelley Beason, B.J. Boyarsky, Brittany Pierce, Winston Roberts, Joanna Simoni and Al Stone.


Senior PharmAssist hosts quarterly meetings of the Durham Medicare Rx Network. In addition to our program, this partnership of front-line providers includes staff at the Durham Center, the Department of Social Services, the local Social Security office, Lincoln Community Health Center, discharge planners and social workers at the local hospitals, and others.

To learn more about the Network or future meeting dates call (919) 688-4772 or emaii us at