The Medicare Rights Center in Westchester

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Our Westchester program is a wonderful community success story, and a national model of volunteerism.

Westchester County, north of New York City, includes suburban areas of affluence, and also large patches of poverty, reflecting the growing tendency of low-income and immigrant families to bypass urban centers for the suburban ring.

140,000 Westchester residents currently have Medicare. They and their families need accurate information about benefits, including the confusing Part D prescription drug benefit. Many also need help enrolling in low-income assistance programs to pay for their health care and medications.employees

The Medicare Rights Center is committed to providing information and counseling to help meet these needs, and to developing a model that will work for other communities throughout the U.S.

Seniors Out Speaking on Medicare
Part D Education and Counseling
Health Advocacy Players
Health Advocacy Resource Center
Meet the People

Seniors Out Speaking on Medicare (SOS Medicare)vicky and dave

The award-winning SOS Medicare program trains and mobilizes volunteers to educate their peers about Medicare issues in their own communities. Our volunteers visit senior centers, religious institutions, public housing projects, clubs and other sites throughout Westchester to speak about health care topics that interest people with Medicare and their families.

Volunteers also provide counseling and help people in need enroll in low-income assistance programs.

Every month SOS volunteers reach roughly 1500 senior center members throughout the county with a "Medicare Minute," a brief presentation on Medicare benefits, rights and options.

Part D Education and Counselinggrant

This education and counseling program was developed in collaboration with the Westchester County Department of Senior Programs and Services. In 2006, volunteers reached over 7,300 people through its educational forums; gave presentations to 680 senior housing residents, and provided one-on-one counseling to over 2,000 people.

Health Advocacy Workshops

In December 2006, the Medicare Rights Center in Westchester, in conjunction with the Sarah Lawrence College Health Advocacy Program, launched a new series of workshops to train members of the community to become health advocates for themselves and their peers.

Volunteers in this program tell stories that show participants how to stand up for their rights in difficult situations with health care professionals in a non-confrontational way.

The first workshop teaches people "How to Talk to Your Doctor," and the second addresses "How to Navigate a Hospital Stay."

New workshop topics are continually under development. Based on surveys completed by program participants and volunteers, the workshops will address the issues of most concern to the Medicare community.

The Health Advocacy Workshops are funded by the Helen Andrus Benedict Foundation, a leader in supporting efforts to create "elder-friendly" communities.

The Medicare Rights Center works with the needs of a growing number of older volunteers who are eager to acquire new skills while helping their peers.

Congresswoman Nita Lowey has secured $95,000 in funding for the Westchester Program's Health Advocacy workshops. Read the article here.

Health Advocacy Resource Center


The Health Advocacy Resource Center program was established in 2007 to help guide older adults and their caregivers through the vast array of health care information.

Visitors to the Center have access to the Westchester Library System's print and online health care resources, with guidance from trained volunteer counselors. The counselors help them find up-to-date and reliable answers to Medicare and other health-related questions.

The Health Advocacy Resource Centers are located in public libraries in Yonkers and Shrub Oak.

If you are interested in volunteering for any of these Westchester programs, please contact us.

Meet the People lois

Lois Steinberg is the Westchester Program Director for the Medicare Rights Center. She oversees the award-winning Seniors Out Speaking on Medicare (SOS Medicare) program and the Health Advocacy Players. Returning to school in her seventies, Dr. Steinberg earned a M.P.S. from the Health Advocacy Program at Sarah Lawrence College. She also holds two degrees in sociology, an M.A. from Columbia University and a Ph.D. from Fordham University.

Purpose Prize SealBefore becoming a health advocate, she conducted research on the impact of educational advocacy organizations and marketing research. For her pioneering work in health advocacy, she was named a 2006 Purpose Prize Fellow by Civic Ventures, as part of its national initiative to recognize Americans over 60 who are leading a new age of social innovation and tackling the toughest problems in their own communities. She was inducted into the Westchester County Senior Citizen Hall of Fame in 2007.


The Medicare Rights Center—Westchester Programs Advisory Board

Laura Bolotsky

Program Coordinator, Westchester County Department of Senior Programs and Services

Lois Bronz

Westchester County Board of Legislators

Cheray T. Burnett

Vice President, Riverside Health Care System, Inc.

Dr. George Goldstein

Dozene Guishard

Program Administrator, Westchester County Department of Senior Programs and Services

Marsha Hurst, Ph.D.

Research Scholar, Institute for Social and Economic Policy and Research, Columbia University

Dr. Susan Kaplan

George Latimer

New York State Assembly

Martha Lopez

Hispanic Affairs Administrator, Office of the County Executive

Suzi Oppenheimer

New York State Senate

Dorothy Orr

Westchester County Department of Senior Programs and Services

Amy Paulin

New York State Assembly

Gilda Press

Director, Town of Eastchester Department of Senior Programs and Services

Shirley Romney

Director, Village of Mamaroneck Department of Community Services

Susan Schefflein

Vice President, Community Investments, United Way of Westchester & Putnam

Bernice Spreckman

Westchester County Board of Legislators

Susan Thaler

Branch Administrator, Yonkers Riverfront Library