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Advocates Call on Legislature to Stop Proposed Rx Cuts to the Elderly and Poor
Date:1/28/2009

Governor's Budget Eliminates EPIC and Medicaid Wrap Coverage for Prescription Drugs

ALBANY, N.Y., Jan. 28 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Members of the New York State Medicare Part D Coalition, including AARP, the Empire Justice Center, Medicare Rights Center, The Legal Aid Society, Selfhelp Community Services and Statewide Senior Action, called on the New York Legislature today to reject the Governor's proposed budget cuts to programs that help the elderly and poor pay for the prescription drugs they need.

The Governor's Budget proposal would eliminate more than $50 million in "wrap around" coverage provided through the Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage (EPIC) Program and Medicaid programs for drugs not covered by the federal Medicare program. This proposal could negatively impact hundreds of thousands of low-income and elderly New Yorkers who rely on these programs to help pay for the medication they need.

The current Medicaid wrap pays for four specific categories of drugs -- atypical antipsychotics, anti-depressants, anti-retrovirals used to treat HIV/AIDS, and anti-rejection drugs used by organ and tissue transplant recipients -- when a Medicare prescription drug plan refuses to cover them.

These budget changes contradict the state's assurance last year that the elderly and poor would not go without the medication they need.

"AARP strongly believes that no one should walk away from the pharmacy counter without the prescription drugs they need," stated Lois Aronstein, AARP New York State Director. "With these changes, the state is shifting the cost and burden onto its most vulnerable populations."

"New York's Medicaid wrap provides a critical safety net to New York's poorest and most vulnerable Medicare beneficiaries -- organ transplant recipients and people living with mental illness or HIV infection," says Cathy Roberts, a senior paraleg
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SOURCE AARP New York
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