Thursday, March 17, 2011

U.S. Sen. Kohl: Administration should protect SeniorCare program


Contact: Joe Bonfiglio
Phone: (202) 224-5364
Tells Secretary Sebelius to hold firm to current program waiver

WASHINGTON – Today U.S. Senator Herb Kohl urged Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to deny any request to change Wisconsin’s popular prescription drug program, SeniorCare. In 2007 and 2009, Kohl fought to extend the SeniorCare program, which was established by Gov. Tommy Thompson in 2002. In a telephone conversation earlier today, Kohl asked the Secretary to preserve the current federal SeniorCare waiver, negotiated by Kohl; any change to the program must be approved by the HHS Secretary.

“SeniorCare has proven to be an efficient, cost-effective choice for Wisconsin seniors. It would be a mistake to dismantle this program, which provides exceptional coverage while saving consumers, taxpayers and the state money. I’m confident that the Administration recognizes the value of SeniorCare,” Kohl said.

SeniorCare Fact Sheet

SeniorCare saves Wisconsin seniors money every day
With a $30 annual enrollment fee, copayments ranging from $5 to $15 and no gaps in coverage, SeniorCare provides more comprehensive and less expensive coverage than Medicare Part D.

SeniorCare saves Taxpayers money every day
According to the Department of Health in Wisconsin, in 2009, the average annual federal cost per enrollee for SeniorCare was $588, less than half the $1,690 federal government spent to subsidize a Part D participant. SeniorCare negotiates lower drug prices and saved $50 million in 2009 alone. SeniorCare currently has a $20 million surplus that the State of Wisconsin wants to use to plug the budget deficit.

The state plan to change SeniorCare will boost drug company profits at the expense of Wisconsin’s lowest income seniors
Because Medicare Part D does not negotiate drug prices, most, if not all, Wisconsin seniors enrolled in SeniorCare would see the cost of their medicines rise. Wisconsin would no longer receive drug rebates through negotiation, further padding drug company profits.

Any change to SeniorCare must be approved by the Health and Human Services Secretary
Under the terms of the 1115 Medicaid waiver that authorizes the program, changes to SeniorCare are prohibited without federal approval.