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AARP urges push for 10-year extension of SeniorCare

Now is the time for Wisconsinites to take action if they want the nation's most innovative and cost-effective state prescription drug savings program for seniors to be extended for another decade.

SeniorCare helps more than 92,000 Wisconsinites age 65-plus with their prescription drug costs. The current waiver that allows Wisconsin to offer SeniorCare as a creditable alternative to Medicare Part D and is currently set to expire Dec. 31.

A request from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) calls for the waiver to be extended for a 10-year period. We at AARP wholeheartedly support this extension and hope the federal government also recognizes the value of SeniorCare.

Lately, there's been a lot of discussion among lawmakers about the high cost of prescription drugs. SeniorCare is Wisconsin's creative and innovative solution to help seniors manage their medication budgets.

By any measure, SeniorCare is a win-win program for Wisconsin and its participants. The costs of the program are largely managed by the state's ability to negotiate discounts and pricing as well as through services like medication therapy management to ensure proper utilization and safety.

Enrollees pay an annual $30 fee and deductibles are based on their average income. After the deductible, SeniorCare has a co-pay of $5 for generic drugs and $15 for name-brand drugs.

A big part of SeniorCare's popularity also stems from the fact that it's easy for participants to enroll in and utilize. Sometimes the biggest hurdle for folks is to understand how to get the assistance they need.

With SeniorCare, Wisconsin has set the bar high for not only creating a very accessible program for seniors, but one that is also an extraordinarily cost-effective use of taxpayer dollars.

We encourage all Wisconsinites to provide comments about the value of SeniorCare before the June 7 deadline. Learn more and provide comments on the DHS website at www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/seniorcare/input.htm.

Lots of supportive comments from the public about the program will go a long way toward helping the waiver to be extended.

Written comments on the proposed application are also welcome and can be sent to the Division of Medical Services at DHSSeniorCare@dhs.wisconsin.gov.

Helen Marks Dicks is the state issues advocacy director for AARP Wisconsin.

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