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ALFA Calls for Co-Pay Equity for Home and Community Based Seniors

ALEXANDRIA, Va., March 10 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Assisted Living Federation of America (ALFA) today hailed introduction of legislation that will provide relief to one million poor seniors in assisted living communities who purchase prescription drugs under Medicare.

The bill ends discrimination against so-called dual-eligible seniors who receive both Medicare and Medicaid but live in home and community based settings, such as assisted living communities. The legislation requires that these seniors be treated the same under Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Program as those who live in nursing homes. Part D exempts low-income dual-eligible seniors in nursing homes from co-payments for prescription drugs.

ALFA praised Congressman Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) and co-sponsors Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Michael Arcuri (D-NY), Leonard Boswell (D-IA), Patrick Kennedy (D-RI), James Langevin (D-RI), Betty McCollum (D-MN), Vin Snyder(D-AR) and Mark Souder (R-IN) for introducing the Home and Community Services Co-payment Equity Act of 2009.

This is the third time the remedial legislation has been filed and ALFA views chances of passage as high this year because Congress is poised to consider broader reforms in the Part D program.

"Seniors should not be punished for living independently," said Congressman Doggett. "The high cost of medicine should not force seniors into expensive institutional care. This bill treats all seniors equally, regardless of where they live. In a struggling economy, my bill provides relief to seniors trying to make ends meet."

"Congressman Doggett continues to demonstrate his dedicated leadership on making the Medicare Part D program work for all of America's seniors," said Richard Grimes, President and CEO of ALFA. "The need to correct this issue, which has plagued dual-eligible individuals in assisted living and other home and community based settings since Part D's inception in 2006 has grown even greater in this economic downturn."

Dual-eligible residents in home and community based settings take an average of eight to 10 prescriptions per month. Co-payments for these medications range from $1 to $5 per drug and often exceed the Medicaid personal needs allowance which can be as little as $30 per month.

Assisted living is one of the fastest growing long-term care options in the United States and costs about one third to one half the amount of nursing home care.

SOURCE Assisted Living Federation of America
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