State turns its back on seniors

To the Times of Ti:

New York State used to have an excellent prescription drug program for its senior citizens; Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage or EPIC. This program was especially good for low-income seniors who paid only low premiums, had low co-pays, and had very little out-of-pocket expense for the prescriptions they needed.

On Jan. 1 my wife and I got a very rude surprise when we picked up a prescription for her 92-year-old mom. A prescription that used to cost only $3 was now $42. What happened?

Our “friends” in Albany have stuck it to our senior citizens. Per the AARP Bulletin, “Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the legislature cut the EPIC budget by about $12 million as part of reductions in state agencies to eliminate a $10 billion deficit.”

EPIC used to provide a benefit of up to $464 to offset the Medicare Part D plan deductibles. This program has been eliminated. In addition EPIC will no longer contribute to keep Plan D co-pays down to a maximum of $20, unless the Medicare enrollee has spent over $2930 on prescriptions.

About 2-3 years ago, New York required low-income seniors to enroll in Medicare-Part D, the federal prescription drug program. EPIC paid the Part D premiums and seniors only had to pick which private Part D plan they wanted. Sounds like a great deal, right? Well, this change made the federal Part D plan primary, EPIC became secondary and New York saved money. It was also a win-win for New York seniors because EPIC offset their Part D deductibles and kept their Part D co-pays to a maximum of $20. In other words, New York’s low-income seniors continued to have very low out-of-pocket expenses.

However, Gov. Cuomo and the state legislature are now reneging on the promise that was made to New York’s senior citizens. This shameless bait-and-switch tactic by our elected leaders in Albany is worse than any used-car-salesman trick. Mr. Cuomo, do you think NY seniors who are attempting to survive on only their Social Security can afford to pay an additional $400-500-600 for their prescription drugs? There has to be a better way to balance New York’s budget than on the backs of its senior citizens!

AARP has said that it will push to roll back the cuts when the state legislature reconvenes in January. New York’s senior citizens, their families and caregivers need to let their state senators and assembly persons know what they think of this before it is too late.

John Bartlett,


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