Delaware Prescription Assistance Program Ending, Worrying Senior - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Delaware Prescription Assistance Program Ending, Worrying Seniors

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DOVER, Del. -- A prescription assistance program offered by Delaware to help people who cannot afford or have difficulty paying for drugs or premiums under Medicare Part D is ending on Aug. 31, a move causing some concern for seniors.

Jill Fredel, a spokeswoman for the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services, said the program, created in 1999 with Tobacco Settlement Agreement funding when Medicare did not offer prescription coverage for its beneficiaries, had more than 5,100 people enrolled in the service as of mid-July.

The program offered offered up to a qualified person each year, had generally assisted with premium payments and some prescription costs for people facing a coverage gap, officials said.

However, Delaware remained one of the few states in the country that offered this type of program, even after Medicare Part D started in 2005. Fredel said state leaders moved to cut it and save $2.5 million while facing a much larger budget deficit of more than $350 million.

"It was part of Governor Markell's original budget proposal, retained as part of Governor Carney's recommended budget, and kept by the JFC. The cut was part of the budget bill that was passed and signed into law in early July," she said.

DHSS is encouraging people affected by the program's conclusion to reach out to the agency to get assistance in moving to a cheaper Medicare Part D plan.

Renee Hoffman, director of the Frederica Senior Center, said many seniors are anticipating higher prescription costs and have come to her asking for assistance.

Although Hoffman said the center does try to help some seniors pay for prescriptions, she said the organization and many other senior centers have suffered major cuts to grant-in-aid funding from the state.

"If we have to start supporting them with the prescriptions too, we're not gonna' last very long. We can't sustain our own operations," she said.

Shirley Ann Carroll of Milford, who said she is a recent chemotherapy patient, used the DPAP program and worries about the program's conclusion and how it will affect her fixed-income budget.

"Well I thought it was tight before, but now it's going to be tighter," she said.


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