Assemblymember Bronson: Harmful Cuts to EPIC Restored in Assembly Budget

“During this trying budget process, difficult decisions have been made to close the state’s $10 billion budget gap, but we cannot allow those cuts to compromise the welfare of our seniors. That’s why I voted in favor of an Assembly budget proposal that restores $34 million of the governor’s proposed cuts to Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage (EPIC). The Assembly budget ensures that quality, affordable health care continues to be accessible to over 300,000 EPIC enrollees – including 14,057 Monroe County seniors.

“Instead of forcing all EPIC participants to join a Medicare Part D drug plan – as outlined in the governor’s proposal – the Assembly budget restores $2.8 million for vital ‘wraparound’ coverage for prescription drugs not covered by Medicare, as well as state payment assistance for Part D premiums and deductibles. Our proposal restores funding to ensure that none of the program’s benefits are eliminated. We also reject the governor’s cuts, as eliminating this aid could cost seniors up to $1,000 or more annually.

“Not only do Monroe County seniors benefit from EPIC each year, but our local pharmacies reap tremendous benefits from medication coverage as well. From 2008-09, an estimated $19 million in payments were made to Monroe County pharmacies.

“During this economic downturn, making any reductions to EPIC would be especially devastating to those seniors on fixed incomes. We have an obligation as representatives to protect our most vulnerable citizens. With the Assembly’s restoration of funds to EPIC, we are making sure that Monroe County seniors won’t have to choose between putting food on the table and the medication they need.”