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NEWORLEANS- If you have Medicare,you could be eligible for free doctor visits and exams,as well as prescription medications.

Dione Herbert of the New OrleansCouncil on Aging stood in front of a group of senior citizens at a gathering in the central city neighborhood of New Orleans. She explained some of the benefits of a program that could help them with medical bills.

'Mammograms, colonoscopies, all of these things are free, no out-of-pocketexpenses, and remember an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,' she told the audience of about 50 people.

Some of these senior citizens may qualify for programs that help with medicaland prescription drugs costs,but don't know it. So The New Orleans Council on Aging is trying to get the word out.

'The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, called CMS,has discovered that there are actually thousands and thousands of people acrossthe U.S.,but in particular in Louisiana, we have a fewthousand who appear to be eligible and are not receiving the service,' said Herbert.

The two programs are for people on Medicare,those 65 and older or those who are disabled and 21 or older. Seniors who qualify by age and income, could get the cost of Medicare PartB for treatment, reimbursed each month, or qualify for no out-of-pocket costs on prescriptions in Medicare Part D. Somepeople could even qualify for both.

The programshelpthis womango to regular doctor visits.

'Oh, it help me a lot,' said Elizabeth Variste, 79.

Anothersenior filled out her application today.

'It will help me financially a lot,' said Almenia Alexis.

Here in Orleans Parish there seem to be a lot of people who already know about this program and are signing up butthere have beenproblems reaching people in St. Bernard, Plaquemines, St. Tammany and the other outlying parishes to get the message out that this program is available to them.

To qualify, you must put in an application.

If you live in Louisiana and have Medicare and want to see if you qualify call 504-827-7843.

Click here for more eligibility details: http://www.ldi.la.gov/Health/SHIIP/

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