Lowers Rx Cost For Low Income Seniors
BY JOHN TOSCANO
Crowley (D- Queens/The Bronx), a member of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, explained that his bill is aimed at helping individuals who are often unable to pay for their medications.
The legislation, he said, would accomplish this by capping low-income patients' co-payments under Part D at $10 a month.
These individuals, Crowley said, pay less than $2,250 under the Part D program, which is the limit they can be charged. They often are covered by both Medicare and Medicaid and purchase more than one type of prescription drug a month.
"People who are diabetic or suffer from heart disease and have trouble affording the medicine they need should not have to take their lives into their own hands and choose what necessities they can do without," Crowley said.
"With this legislation, our most vulnerable citizens, who also struggle to pay for their lifesaving drugs, will not have to pay more than $10 a month in co-payments," he added.
The $10-a-month cap will result in more people taking these lifesaving drugs and avoiding long hospital visits, the lawmaker said.
"With a less burdened system, health care costs for everyone will go down," Crowley predicted.
Crowley's bill has been endorsed by Consumers Union. William Vaughan, senior policy analyst at CU, said, "We believe this proposal will help save lives and Medicare money by improving the quality of health of our nation's most vulnerable citizens."
Crowley said the Ways and Means Committee on which he serves oversees tax and healthcare policy and will act on his legislation. He explained that the initial costs to implement his bill would be offset in the future as individuals take their mediations more regularly and avoid advanced surgery, ambulatory care and emergency room visits.
His bill is part of his commitment to lower prescription drug and healthcare costs for everyone.
CROWLEY OPPOSES BUSH BUDGET CUTS: Reacting to President George W. Bush's recent budget proposals, Crowley said the president's plans call for a $100 billion reduction for Medicare and Medicaid over a 10-year span, and would hurt many seniors' health care.
The president also called for higher premiums for medical services and prescription medications, Crowley said. The executive budget also reduces funds for the low income Home Energy Assistance Plan by 18 percent. The program pays some of the home heating costs for seniors.
Crowley vowed to oppose the president's "wrong headed" budget plan.
SEARS SAYS TAKE TAX SAVINGS: City Councilmember Helen Sears (D- Jackson Heights) says there are several tax savings available for seniors, who should take advantage of them. These include STAR (School Tax Relief), Basic and Enhanced; SCHE (Senior Citizens Homeowner Exemption); the Veteran's Exemption, and the Disabled Homeowners' Exemption.
The deadline to apply for these tax relief programs is March 15, Sears said. Application forms are available at her office at 37-32 75th St., Jackson Heights, or can be downloaded from the city Department of Finance Web site, www.nyc.gov/finance.