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Big Sky Rx on Chopping Block

As the Montana legislature prepares for the 2011 session, state leaders are currently proposing budget cuts across all state agencies, which could result in a significant loss of funding for senior services. Not only are programs like Meals on Wheels in jeopardy, but Big Sky Rx is on the chopping block as well.

“In a time of skyrocketing costs of prescription drugs, now is not the time to eliminate Big Sky Rx,” said Bob Bartholomew, AARP Montana State Director. “We need the help of AARP members across the state to send a message to their legislators that this is not a good idea.”

Big Sky Rx was created with the passage of I-149 in 2004 when voters overwhelmingly approved an increase in tobacco taxes to pay for prescription drug assistance. Bringing legislators from both sides of the aisle together with the business community, this landmark healthcare legislation was an initiative of a broad coalition of non profits and healthcare organizations. The measure was implemented in the 2005 legislative session and had wide bi-partisan legislative support as well as the support of healthcare and consumer advocates, insurers and the business community including the Montana Chamber of Commerce and the National Federation of Independent Business.

Big Sky Rx received national accolades when it was recognized by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners as “One of Four Outstanding State Innovations in Healthcare”. Currently, nearly 11,000 older Montanans are served by the prescription drug assistance program.

“Montanans voted overwhelmingly to dedicate tobacco tax funds towards health related programs, including prescription drug assistance for seniors. If state leaders proceed with overturning the will of Montana voters, then Montana voters need to hold their elected officials accountable,” said Bartholomew. “I would urge Montanans to contact their state senators and house members and tell them not to thwart the will of the people – keep Big Sky Rx intact as Montana voters decisively intended.”

Montanans can contact their state Senator and Representative by calling 406-444-4800 or sending a message online.