Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Rockaway) announced that he advocated and was successful in including $30 million in restorations to the Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage (EPIC) program in the 2012-13 state budget (A.9056-D). This legislation restores co-payment assistance to the EPIC program’s 300,000 enrollees – including 27,000 Queens seniors.
“With the rising cost of living, many Southern Queens and Rockaway seniors on fixed incomes have a hard enough time putting food on the table, let alone affording the staggering cost of prescription drugs,” Assemblyman Goldfeder said. “Restoring EPIC funding in the state budget ensures that our seniors can afford these life-saving drugs and receive the support they need during this difficult economic time.”
Currently, seniors enrolled in the EPIC program are expected to pay 25 percent of the cost of a prescription drug for each trip to the pharmacy. Under this legislation, the EPIC program would return to allowing enrollees to pay no more than a $20 co-payment for each prescription drug, making the cost of medication more affordable for our seniors, added Assemblyman Goldfeder.
"Many seniors struggled with the loss of EPIC and will benefit greatly from the restoration,” said Mark Frey, Executive Director of the Howard Beach Senior Center. Many of our seniors live from check to check and any increase in cost, especially increases of the kind associated with prescription services, forces them to make difficult choices in other necessary areas such as food, housing, transportation and activities. We take this restoration as a sign that our representatives and public officials understand how their decisions have both immediate and long-lasting effects on the health and well being of our vulnerable populations such as seniors."
“It’s critical that we put the health and well-being of our most vulnerable first, and this year’s budget does just that,” Assemblyman Goldfeder said. “I will continue fighting to make sure Queens seniors have access to the medication and affordable, quality health care they need to maintain a better quality of life.”
This new program is scheduled to begin January 1, 2013 Under this new plan, seniors would go back to paying between $3 and $20 for each prescription they receive through their federal Medicare Part D benefit, instead of 25 percent of the cost of the drug, noted Goldfeder.