For Immediate Release: March 16, 2015
Contact: Senator Janis Ringhand, (608) 266-2253
SENATOR RINGHAND: PETITIONS TO SAVE SENIOR CARE STILL POURING IN
Will continue to collect signatures throughout budget process
Hundreds of people from throughout the 15th Senate District have retuned petitions asking the state and federal government to save Wisconsin’s SeniorCare prescription drug program.
“SeniorCare is extremely popular,” says State Senator Janis Ringhand (D-Evansville). “Kicking people off of SeniorCare is Governor Walker’s way of telling the big drug companies that his presidential campaign is open for business.”
Governor Walker's state budget proposal would require all current and future SeniorCare participants to first purchase coverage through Medicare Part D, the federal government's prescription drug program. They could then use SeniorCare benefits to cover any prescriptions their Part D plan will not cover.
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services estimates that Governor Walker’s proposal would cost SeniorCare participants an additional $15 million over the next two years.
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Burlington) has said that he believes costs should go up for those participating in SeniorCare because “they are getting a pretty good bargain.” He suggested banning new people from obtaining SeniorCare and slowly eliminate the program as current participants die.
“Speaker Vos has it backwards,” Senator Ringhand said. “SeniorCare gives people a better deal and lower drug prices. We should be encouraging more people to sign up for SeniorCare, not fewer.”
SeniorCare is a bargain compared to Medicare Part D because the federal government is prohibited from negotiating with the big pharmaceutical companies to lower the cost of commonly used drugs. This artificially keeps both drug costs and pharmaceutical company profits high.
Seniors with an individual income of $18,832 per year or less pay just $30 annually under SeniorCare, with co-pays of $5 for generic drugs and $15 for brand name drugs. Those whose incomes are between 160 to 240 percent of the federal poverty level, yearly deductibles start at $500 and go to as high as $850.
Forcing seniors to switch to Medicare Part D would require seniors to pay premiums ranging from $15.70 to $130 per month.
“The Republicans want to eliminate SeniorCare because forcing people into Medicare Part D only helps the big pharmaceutical companies, not people” Senator Ringhand concluded.