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AARP Urges Governor to Use Budget to Maintain Quality of Life For Aging New Yorkers

AARP testifies at Health Budget Hearing

ALBANY, N.Y., Feb. 2 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, AARP testified at New York State Legislature's Health Budget Hearing to address three major issues that impact the health care and quality of life of millions of aging New Yorkers: prescription drug access and affordability, health care access, and home and community based long-term care.

"These issues are critical to New Yorkers staying healthy and having access to the same standard of care as they age," said Lois Aronstein, AARP New York State Director. "We know the state faces some tough budget decisions but maintaining access and affordability to health care need to be a priority, especially in tough economic times."

AARP requested the Legislature consider the following in the Executive Budget for the State Fiscal Year 2009-2010:

Ban Pharmaceutical Company Gifts to Doctors

Support the Governor's proposal to ban pharmaceutical company gifts to doctors that have a value of over $50.00 -- free samples are exempt for this ban. Pharmaceutical companies, in many instances, influence physicians to prescribe high cost brand name drugs when equally effective, less expensive versions may be available. New York needs to address this issue that affects consumers' pocket books, the quality of their healthcare, and all taxpayers who help fund public prescription drug programs, such as Medicaid and EPIC.

Stop the Creation of Two-Tiered Assisted Living

Oppose the budget proposal to add 6,000 beds to the Medicaid-funded Assisted Living Program unless it conforms to the NYS Assisted Living Reform Act (ALRA) of 2004. ALRA created strong consumer protections for assisted living residents. Under this proposal low-income New Yorkers would be governed by an inferior set of rules and non-Medicaid assisted living residents would continue to benefit from the strong consumer protections and disclosures provided under the ALRA. These benefits include a comprehensive individualized service plan, a uniform residency agreement, and the ability of the assisted living resident to age in place.

No Budget Cuts to EPIC Insurance Coverage

Oppose the elimination of the EPIC wrap around coverage. Currently, EPIC wrap around coverage pays for prescription drugs that Medicare Part D does not. The average EPIC enrollee is 78 years old and on four prescriptions. Under this proposal, older persons may not get the medicine they need and could walk away from the pharmacy counter empty handed.

EPIC currently provides coverage to approximately 320,000 low to middle income seniors across New York State. New York State has saved more than $400 million dollars over the last four years, since it was combined with Medicare Part D. Creating and maintaining access to affordable prescription drugs is important for all New Yorkers as it is well documented that people cost the health care system more when they do not take the medication they need.

AARP has over 2.6 million members in New York State. AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization that helps people 50+ have independence, choice and control in ways that are beneficial and affordable to them and society as a whole. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to either political campaigns or candidates. We produce AARP The Magazine, published bimonthly; AARP Bulletin, our monthly newspaper; AARP Segunda Juventud, our bimonthly magazine in Spanish and English; NRTA Live & Learn, our quarterly newsletter for 50+ educators; and our website, AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. We have staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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