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Governor Signs SeniorCare Bill
Thanks Legislature for taking prompt action to help seniors with drug costs

 

March 05, 2004
Friday - 12:50 am


Juneau, AK - Governor Frank Murkowski on Thursday signed into law HB374, which creates the SeniorCare program. This legislation is a high priority of this administration, which the Governor

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Governor Frank Murkowski signed legislation Thursday enacting his SeniorCare program to give Alaska's needy seniors a choice of prescription drug coverage or monthly cash assistance. The governor's legislation also creates a new Senior Information Office and a Preferred Drug List to make prescription drugs more affordable. -- Photo courtesy Office of the Governor
asked the Legislature to pass within the first 60 days of the session. The Governor thanked the Alaska Legislature for its quick action in passing SeniorCare, a program that will help nearly 11,0000 Alaskan seniors with drug subsidies of up to $1,600 a year to assist in the purchase of needed medications.

"I think the legislators reacted favorably to our request to move quickly on this, and I am pleased to say that both houses passed the bill unanimously," Murkowski said. "Alaska now has a bridge for those seniors most in need of assistance until the full Medicare prescription drug benefit begins in January 2006."
The program is slated to begin April 1, 2004. Once implemented, 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 program also includes a new Senior Information Office and a Preferred Drug List to make prescription drugs more affordable.

Seniors who qualify for the Senior Assistance Program (65 and older and 135 percent of the poverty level), and who are not receiving comprehensive Medicaid prescription drug coverage will be provided a choice. They can chose between the new SeniorCare prescription drug subsidy of $1,600 a year or to continue to receive the Senior Assistance Program cash assistance of $1,440 a year. Together with the $600 Medicare subsidy to begin this spring, these eligible seniors opting for the SeniorCare prescription drug benefit will have a combined drug subsidy of $2,200 a year. Seniors who are receiving Medicaid prescription drug coverage will be able to continue receiving the cash assistance of $120 per month.


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According to new Federal Poverty Level guidelines effective February 2004, a senior qualifies for the Senior Assistance Program if he or she earns less than $15,701 annually, or if living with a spouse, earns less than $21,074. To qualify, some assets are considered in the overall needs test.

Additionally, beginning April 1, 2004 seniors between 135 percent and 150 percent of poverty level will receive a prescription drug benefit of $1,000 a year. Seniors who have an annual income less than $17,445 for an individual, or $23,415 for a couple, will qualify.

Applications for SeniorCare cash or prescription drug benefits will soon be available at senior centers, offices of the Division of Public Assistance, and at the SeniorCare website www.seniorcare.alaska.gov. Seniors currently receiving cash assistance from the Senior Assistance Program will receive information and application forms in the mail next week.

Other services offered through SeniorCare include a new Senior Information Office operated by the Division of Senior and Disabilities Services. This office will be a one-stop resource for information seniors need. The Alaska Senior Information Office provides a statewide toll-free telephone number and Web site for information on services available to seniors, which will include an up-to-date directory of local physicians who accept Medicaid and Medicare clients, available programs and services including SeniorCare, and prescription drug information and assistance.

The toll-free telephone number for the SeniorCare Senior Information Office is 1-800-478-6065 (Anchorage 907-269-3680) and the Web address is: www.seniorcare.alaska.gov.

 

 

Source of News Release, Chart & Photograph:

Office of the Governor
Web Site


 

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