Assemblyman Gabryszak: Seniors are Protected in the Assembly’s Budget
March 15, 2011

Assemblyman Dennis Gabryszak (D,I,C,WF – Cheektowaga) announced the Assembly is voting on their budget plan today, which restores $34 million of the governor’s proposed cuts to the Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage (EPIC) funding.

The EPIC program currently provides over 300,000 enrollees with secondary coverage for prescription drug costs. The Assembly’s proposal restores funding so that no program benefits would be eliminated.

“We have made some difficult decisions in closing the budget gap,” Assemblyman Gabryszak said. “But cutting EPIC funding by $34 million would have crippled Western New York seniors who are already struggling to make ends meet. The Assembly was able to restore the funding back to the EPIC program so it can continue to assist in making sure prescription drugs are covered for our seniors.”

The Assembly rejected the governor’s plan that would force all EPIC participants, regardless of financial hardship, to join the Medicare part D drug plan. The Assembly’s proposal continues the vital “wraparound” coverage for prescription drugs not covered by Medicare, as well as state payment assistance for part D premiums and deductibles. Eliminating this aid could cost seniors up to $1,000 or more annually.

“I can’t tell you how many calls I have been getting in my office from seniors worried that they won’t be able to afford their prescriptions,” Assemblyman Gabryszak said. “With so many seniors on fixed incomes, any cuts to this program could have a huge impact on their ability to put food on the table. Restoring these cuts to EPIC is vital to our seniors who depend on this program.”

Other senior programs that were slated for elimination in the executive budget but are protected in the Assembly proposal are:

  • Elderly Abuse Education and Outreach ($367,500);
  • Retired Senior Volunteer Program ($324,750);
  • Enriched Social Adult Day Centers ($183,750);
  • Foster Grandparent Program (147,000);
  • Long Term Care Senior Respite ($106,500); and
  • Patients’ Rights Hotline ($47,250).

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