Prescription drug aid for elderly poor
June 28, 1999
By Correspondent Gary Tuchman
Web posted at: 2:17 p.m. EDT (1817 GMT)
NEW YORK (CNN) -- As Congress and the White House debate
Medicare spending, including proposals to make prescription
drugs more affordable, 73-year-old Katherine Roberts believes
a similar program already in place in New York state has
saved her life.
A Manhattan apartment dweller, whose yearly income of about
$11,000 comes from Social Security checks, Roberts takes
several prescription drugs, but does not qualify for
Medicaid, a government health care program for the poor.
That led to a difficult decision. After paying for her
medication, Roberts had only enough money to feed her cat --
It's a choice she no longer has to make, due to a New York
state program called EPIC that allows 108,000 seniors to pay
a fraction of the original price on prescription drugs.
Roberts: "It has definitely saved my life"
73 K/6 sec. AIFF or WAV sound
The state spends about $90 million annually to subsidize
prescriptions for single seniors who make under $18,500 a
year; the limit is $24,400 for married couples.
92% discount on pricey drug
Roberts, who currently takes Lipitor for high cholesterol,
Zestril for hypertension and Prilosec for a reflux disorder
would have to spend about $2,800 a year for those drugs.
But under EPIC, she and other participants never pay more
than $23 for each prescription, so for her priciest drug,
Prilosec, Roberts gets a 92% discount.
Other states have, or are planning, similar drug subsidies.
Advocacy groups for the elderly say New York's program is the
While manufacturers oppose legislation that would limit what
they can charge for their drugs, they don't object to the New
York program because the state government pays for the
And Katherine Roberts couldn't be happier. "It's made my
Clinton drug plan right prescription for Medicare?
June 27, 1999
Clinton drops Medicare prescription drug change
June 26, 1999
AMA to develop Web prescription guidelines
June 24, 1999
The EPIC Guide
Stark Introduces Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit
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