Advocates warn about loss of drug cost subsidy | Health
ALBANY - Seniors below a $35,000 annual income for singles and $50,000 for couples face the elimination of help paying for life-extending prescriptions under Gov. Cuomo's proposed budget.
"This budget proposal will mean that seniors will not get the medicine they need," said Neal Lane of AARP. "Balancing the state's spreadsheet on this population is simply wrong."
Prescription drug costs vary widely depending on circumstance but can quickly eat into fixed budgets. Advocates say the average senior using EPIC has four prescriptions and receives about $1,000 in state help to pay for the drugs.
"EPIC is a lifeline," said Cathy Roberts of the Empire Justice Center. "Many seniors apply for EPIC because they're at the point where they can't continue to afford to keep taking their medications or they've already stopped."
The change Cuomo is proposing would remove EPIC drug coverage from roughly two-thirds of the seniors now receiving it.
It would save the state $58 million in the next budget and $93 million the following year.
But advocates say the effect on many seniors would be severe.
"People who do not get the medicine that they need use more doctor visits," Lane said. "More hospital visits. Wind up in hospitals and nursing homes, costing the health care system far more money than the cost of a prescription."
Advocates are hoping state legislators will restore money for EPIC in the budget due April 1.