EPIC Benefits May improve
State Senator George Onorato reports that legislation has been introduced in his chamber to further reduce out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs under the Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage (EPIC) program.
The new proposal to reduce seniors’ prescription drug expenses is called EPIC-COPE or "Cap Out-of-Pocket Expenses." Onorato said it would save single seniors earning $15,000 or $30,000 another $344 and $900, respectively, and married couples earning $20,000 or $50,000 another $1,324 and $4,930, respectively.
Onorato (D-Astoria) said the legislation, if passed, would cap out-of-pocket expenses at five percent of a senior’s annual income. "People should be assured that the existing EPIC program has made a big difference in the lives of many seniors having trouble affording prescription medication," Onorato stated. "But unfortunately, prescription drug costs are continuing to rise, eroding the benefits seniors receive. That’s why we need to take action, or again face the prospect of seniors having to sacrifice their prescriptions to pay for food, heat, housing and other necessities," he declared.
Onorato also put out a reminder that seniors eligible for the existing EPIC program (singles earning up to $35,000 annually and couples with annual incomes up to $50,000) can enroll in the program by calling the state’s toll-free EPIC hotline at (800) 332-3742 or visit the State Office for the Aging web site at www.aging.state.ny.us/nysofa/.
GOOD RESPONSE FOR FLU SHOTS: Last Wednesday, Assemblymember Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) sponsored a free flu shots event for western Queens residents at the New York Presbyterian Hospital clinic on 21st Street. Of the 350 people who came to take advantage of the free shot, most were senior citizens, Gianaris said. "Now more than ever, it is critical that our seniors receive flu shots as the influenza season approaches," Gianaris stated. He said that Assemblymember Catherine Nolan (D-Ridgewood and the Visiting Nurse Service of New York also participated in last Wednesday’s event.
Gianaris noted that numerous health agencies warn that seniors and people with asthma or other chronic health problems are particularly vulnerable to the damaging effects of the flu and should receive annual flu shots.
GET HEAP APPLICATIONS: With the cold weather coming, thoughts turn to costly fuel bills and to the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) for seniors.
Assemblymember Michael Cohen (D-Forest Hills) reminds that applications for the HEAP benefit, which ranges from $40 to $350, are available at his district office, 98-08 Metropolitan Ave., Forest Hills. Apply quickly for the once-a-year grant to help cover fuel and utility costs, because the funds allocated by the federal government are not renewed once they run out. Sometimes the funds run out by March, Cohen warned.
For information about the HEAP program, call the city Department for the Aging, (212) 442-1000, or the city Human Resources Administration (718) 291-1900.
MOVE TO ADJUST VETS’ BENEFITS: A release from the Eastern Paralyzed Veterans Association (EPVA) says that the House has passed a bill that would expand access to specialty health care services for veterans, particularly the poorer, non-service-connected veterans living in urban areas. The specialty services are defined as mental health care, spinal cord injury treatment and traumatic brain injury treatment.