Wisconsin Drug Plan Would Benefit Low-Income Seniors
Democratic legislators in Wisconsin have proposed a new prescription drug program designed to reduce costs for 330,000 low-income seniors, the AP/St. Paul Pioneer Press reports. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Chvala (D) said Jan. 9 that the proposal, offered by Sen. Judy Robson (D), would be the first bill considered by the Senate in this legislative session (Ross, AP/St. Paul Pioneer Press, 1/10). The program, at a cost of $105 million per year, would be open to Wisconsin residents age 65 and older with annual incomes of no more than 300% of the federal poverty level, or $25,050 for a single person and $33,750 for a married couple (Jones, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 1/10). Participants would pay a $20 annual fee, and then would receive an 18% discount on drugs until they each pay a $500 deductible. After meeting the deductible, enrollees would pay a $10 co-payment for brand-name drugs and $5 for generic drugs (AP/St. Paul Pioneer Press, 1/10). The deductible would be waived for "seniors at the lowest income levels." Estimating that the average senior spends $1,600 per year on prescription drugs, Robson said the program would produce an average savings of $920 for an enrolled senior ( Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 1/10). Robson labeled her plan a compromise between two prescription drug plans that were passed last session -- one by the Democratic-controlled state Senate and the other by the Republican-controlled state Assembly -- both of which died in their respective chambers (AP/St. Paul Pioneer Press, 1/10). But state Assembly Majority Leader Steve Foti (R) "balked" at the program's cost and indicated that lawmakers should wait to pass the state's budget later this year before taking up Robson's proposal, since the program would not go into effect until March 2002 (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 1/10).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.