The Remarks Of Speaker Sheldon Silver

Governor's Press Conference Announcing That New York State
Is Accepting Applications For The Prescription Saver Card

Monday, March 23, 2009

[As Prepared for Delivery]

On behalf of the Assembly, I join with the Governor and with all of the leaders present here today in urging every New Yorker who is eligible for the free New York Prescription Saver Card to apply as soon as possible.

In this tough economy, there is no reason for any citizen who can receive this card to pay full price for their prescription drugs or to go without the medicines that they need. So, I urge the media, the advocates, and our local government partners across the state to help us spread the word that the State Health Department is accepting applications for the Prescription Saver Card right now.

The high cost of prescription drugs is an issue that I and my Assembly Majority colleagues have been dealing with for a long, long time.

In fact, with the leadership of our Health Committee Chair, Assemblyman Dick Gottfried, we were the first to pass legislation creating the Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Program, back in 1986. While many seniors have achieved savings through EPIC, we know that there are thousands of New Yorkers with low or fixed incomes who cannot afford the medicines that they need.

In 2006, when we first advanced our "prescription saver" program, we intended it to apply to all New Yorkers below a certain income threshold. The plan being announced today is a compromise that limits eligibility to New Yorkers with low incomes, between the ages of 50 and 64, and anyone who has been deemed disabled by the Social Security Administration. The compromise was negotiated with the Governor and the previous Senate Majority as part of the budget.

As the economy improves and as the Obama Administration and Congress move forward with national health care reform, it is our hope that this prescription drug savings program can be extended to all New Yorkers whose incomes make it difficult or impossible to afford the medications they need.

Frankly, in this new millennium, it is time we did away with the notion that the benefits created by medical and pharmaceutical science are commodities available only to those of us who can afford them.

We urge all eligible New Yorkers to take advantage of the New York State Prescription Saver Card and to do so, today.