Like many of my constituents, I’m glad to see that the State Assembly is working to preserve SeniorCare in the state budget.
Since it began in 2001, SeniorCare has proven to be a successful prescription drug assistance program. It enables seniors to purchase supplemental prescription coverage to help with medications that may not be covered by Medicare.
Unfortunately, SeniorCare’s future has been in jeopardy ever since Gov. Walker introduced the 2015–17 budget earlier this year. His plan includes a $15 million cut to SeniorCare and requires enrollees to apply and enroll in Medicare Part D, if eligible. Based on how successful SeniorCare has been in the past, I was surprised and disappointed to see this proposed change.
As I talked with neighbors, and held listening sessions throughout the 51st Assembly District, these concerns were echoed in the feedback I received. I heard from people like Sue in Darlington, Nancy in Dodgeville, and Mike in Monroe along with so many others; they all were passionate that I stand up for seniors and try to save SeniorCare.
In response to these concerns, I authored a letter sent to Rep. John Nygren (R–Marinette), Co-Chair of the Joint Finance Committee asking that SeniorCare be preserved. Shortly thereafter, Rep. Nygren expressed his commitment to preserve the structure of the program.
This is great news, especially since prescription drug prices seem to inevitably increase year after year. SeniorCare was designed to address these ever-increasing costs by offering prescription drugs at a more affordable rate than Medicare Part D. In recent years, SeniorCare helped our seniors save $144 million in drug costs. Our seniors, most of who are living on a fixed income, no longer have to choose between buying groceries and their prescription drugs.
Today, more than 80,000 Wisconsin seniors are enrolled in SeniorCare. They deserve to have the reassurance that a prescription drug assistance program will be continued. On behalf of my constituents and seniors across the state, I will continue to fight to make sure that SeniorCare is preserved.
I will also work to preserve our long-term care programs. Currently, the budget includes changes to IRIS and Family Care. These are popular healthcare options that offer quality and cost-effective choices to elderly citizens and those with disabilities. There may be many demands on our state’s budget, but social safety nets for our most vulnerable populations shouldn’t suffer as a result.
I would like to thank everyone who has contacted me to express their concerns regarding SeniorCare and Wisconsin’s long-term care system. Together, we will keep working to protect these successful programs.
If you need more information about the SeniorCare program or any of Wisconsin’s long-term care programs, please feel free to contact my office at 608-266-7502 or by email, Rep.Novak@legis.wisconsin.gov.