“Anyone living on a fixed income should not have to choose between paying to put food on the table or buying their prescription medication. When my Assembly colleagues and I passed our budget proposal on Tuesday, we all agreed that we must ensure that seniors, our parents and grandparents, our neighbors, the generation that came before us be protected from dire cuts with even dire circumstances. That is precisely why we restored $34 million in proposed cuts to Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage (EPIC), funding cuts that would have a dire effect on Syracuse area seniors.
“According to State Health Commissioner Nirav Shah, in his testimony before the legislative budget committee on health, seniors currently enrolled in EPIC would be paying on average $100 a month more for their prescription medications. This is simply unaffordable for so many.
“Although the Assembly budget proposal accepts over 95 percent of the governors proposed cuts I simply cannot, in good conscience, accept his plan that would in no uncertain terms gut the EPIC program. In addition, our 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.
“As we continue through this open and public process of crafting a fiscally responsible and on time budget, we in the Assembly must never forget the people that our decisions effect. We must ensure that the sacrifices we must endure and the tough decisions we must make do not rest solely on the backs of working families, seniors and those living on fixed incomes. Even with a $10 billion deficit we must remember it’s about the people, not about the numbers.