State Budget Preserves State Pharmacy Program for Seniors (EPIC)

ALBANY, N.Y., March 31 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following is a statement by Lois Aronstein, AARP New York State Director:

AARP commends Governor Paterson, Senate Majority Leader Smith and Assembly Speaker Silver for negotiating a final state budget that preserves a major benefit under one of New York's most beneficial programs for seniors, EPIC. The Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage (EPIC) program was in danger of losing more than $50 million in "wrap around" coverage, which pays for an EPIC enrollee's prescription drugs when the drugs are not covered by a Medicare Part D plan.

This proposal could have had a negative impact on hundreds of thousands of low-income and elderly New Yorkers who rely on the EPIC program. What's more, eliminating the EPIC "wrap around" coverage could have cost New York State significantly more in the long run. Not taking medication as directed by a health care professional can lead to an increased risk of declining health, increased visits to the emergency rooms, and increased admissions to nursing homes -- costing the health care system more.

No one should have to walk away from the pharmacy counter without the prescription drugs they need. By restoring wrap around coverage, the state is living up to its promise to one of its most vulnerable populations.

The average EPIC enrollee is a 78-year-old man or woman who takes four prescription medications. Since the state partnered EPIC with Medicare Part D, the state has realized significant savings. Before this partnership, taxpayers were paying close to $1 billion to fund EPIC. The cost of the EPIC program today is a little over $468 million.

For more than 20 years, New York State has provided excellent prescription drug coverage to seniors in need through the EPIC program. It is a fundamental mission of AARP to ensure prescription drug affordability for all. On behalf of AARP and our tens of thousands of members who joined us in opposing these cuts, we thank our state leaders for ensuring that the EPIC program will continue its long tradition of serving New York's vulnerable elderly.

AARP has over 2.5 million members in New York State. AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization dedicated to making life better for people 50 and over. We provide information and resources; engage in legislative, regulatory and legal advocacy; assist members in serving their communities; and offer a wide range of unique benefits, special products, and services for our members. These include AARP The Magazine, published bimonthly; AARP Bulletin, our monthly newspaper; Segunda Juventud, our quarterly newspaper in Spanish; Live and Learn, our quarterly newsletter for National Retired Teachers Association members; and our Web site, www.aarp.org. We have staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

SOURCE AARP New York State



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