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Prescription Drug Help in Jeopardy

AARP is calling on the New York State Legislature to reject Governor Cuomo’s proposed budget cuts to programs impacting older New Yorkers.  

The Governor’s budget proposal eliminates all assistance to EPIC (Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage Program) enrollees and drastically reduces coverage for the state’s 290,000 EPIC enrollees.  Under the new plan, the program would only pay for medication when an enrollee falls into the Medicare prescription drug coverage gap.

“This budget proposal would negatively impact hundreds of thousands of elderly New Yorkers who rely on these programs,” stated Lois Wagh Aronstein, AARP New York state director.  “Eliminating the EPIC program shifts an unfair cost and burden onto seniors and taxpayers alike.”  

The average EPIC enrollee is 78 years old and is on four prescription medications. AARP’s Public Policy Institute’s Rx Price Watch Report has documented that as of March 2010, manufacturer prices of the brand name prescription drugs most widely used by Medicare beneficiaries increased by an average of 9.7 percent.  

Geneva Conway, an EPIC beneficiary in New York State, commented, “Like thousands of people my age across New York State, I rely on EPIC to help me pay for my prescription drugs.  I have seen firsthand how people need EPIC to help them with their prescription drug costs and I can’t imagine the devastating impact of taking it away.  For seniors across the state, the EPIC program represents quality of life, and the ability to maintain good health.”

Long-Term Care Resource Faces Cuts

Additionally, the budget proposal eliminates New York’s single point of entry program for long-term care, the NY Connects program. This program is the only independent, objective resource for New Yorkers wanting long-term care information.

NY Connects provides comprehensive, easily accessible information and assistance for consumers of all ages seeking long term care services. It serves as a single point of entry system for long-term care.  

Without this program the state would lose out on the opportunity to receive $190 million in funding under the new health care reform law.

“Without this program, New Yorkers seeking to make informed decisions about long-term care in a time of crisis could face major barriers to accessing appropriate home- and community-based care for a family member,” Wagh Aronstein continued. “It also means that New York State would be ineligible for certain federal funding at a time when federal dollars coming into New York State are dwindling.”

Since 2007, NY Connects has served over 300,000 New Yorkers providing them with essential information on the use of cost-effective, community-based, long-term care services rather than more expensive, tax-payer funded institutions.  

Watch our video on saving EPIC and join AARP members across the state in fighting to save New York State’s EPIC program by calling 1-800-700-6469 and NY Connects by calling 1-800-869-5861. 

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