January 15, 2004
Once implemented, SeniorCare will help more than 10,0000 Alaskan seniors with drug subsidies of up to $1,600 a year to assist in the purchase of needed medications. Seniors currently receiving the Alaska Senior Assistance Program will be offered a choice to continue receiving the cash assistance of $120 a month instead of the drug coverage. The proposed program will also include a new Senior Information Office and a Preferred Drug List to make prescription drugs more affordable.
"I am gratified to hear that AARP has considered the merits of our administration's SeniorCare proposal and has endorsed it," Murkowski said. "The growing cost of prescription drugs has placed many seniors in a difficult position, and we hope that the program we have put forth will provide needed relief. I also appreciate the quick action the legislative committees have given to SeniorCare, which underscores their recognition of the need for a quick solution."
Marguerite Stetson, AARP State Coordinator for Advocacy said that SeniorCare helps over 7,000 older Alaskans cope financially in their later years. "Governor Murkowski's SeniorCare program will run until January 1, 2006, when new federal Medicare prescription drug benefits begin," Stetson said.
Stetson said that many of the AARP members use the Senior Assistance Program benefits to purchase prescription drugs. The Kaiser Family Foundation reports that prescription drug increases in Alaska are higher than in any other state. "The SeniorCare program offers older Alaskans a choice to continue to receive the Senior Assistance monthly checks, or to get a prescription drug benefit to help with out-of-pocket prescription drug costs, until the new Medicare prescription drug benefit begins," she said. "That's just smart medicine and certainly older Alaskans will appreciate the financial support."
AARP Alaska also expressed support for the Senior Information Office. "In all our AARP surveys, access to helpful information is always cited as a critical need by older persons as well as younger family members who may be caring for older relatives.
"AARP particularly applauds the SeniorCare program's Medicaid preferred drug list (PDL)," Stetson said. "Many states have implemented Medicaid PDL's, and states that have implemented them have generally saved at least 10% on prescription costs. It's just good common sense."
"AARP supports PDL's, with appropriate consumer protections, to avoid cuts in Medicaid eligibility or benefits and to expand access to affordable drugs," she said. "In fact, the Alaska Preferred Drug List will be our 'Consumer Reports' for prescription drugs. That information will be good for all of us, whether or not we are Medicaid beneficiaries."
Stetson said that when AARP surveys its members about their prescription problems, their concerns generally come down to access and affordability. "AARP anticipates the proposed SeniorCare program will help older Alaskans and all Medicaid beneficiaries with both of these issues."
Source of News Release: