A letter in the March 20 Tomahawk Leader:
A headline in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel stated “SeniorCare’s Future Remains in Doubt.” The article appeared on-line Feb. 26 shortly after United States Rep. Tammy Baldwin accepted a petition signed by 16,000 Wisconsin residents who support the continuation of the program. The petition drive was sponsored by the Coalition of Wisconsin Aging Groups and signed by many Oneida County residents.
SeniorCare is the state’s pharmaceutical assistance program. Last year more than 108,000 Wisconsin residents age 65 and older used this plan to save on their drug costs ...
The federal waiver under which the program operates is set to expire June 30. Last summer a waiver was requested to continue the program; federal officials have not responded to the request. Baldwin stated Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt indicated the federal government’s desire that individual states not run their own programs …
… The office of State Rep. Leah Vukmir (R-Wauwatosa) noted “SeniorCare was created under a five-year federal waiver to provide affordable prescription drugs to lower-income seniors when no other programs were available. The waiver leaves Wisconsin as the last state in the country still running its own prescription drug program for seniors. Every other state has made the transition to Medicare Rx.” …
If you support the continuation of the federal waiver, you should notify your elected representatives:
Sen. Herb Kohl, chairman of the Special Committee on Aging, 420 Graham Ave., Suite 206, Eau Claire, WI 54701; phone 715-832-8424. Sen. Russ Feingold, Firstar Plaza, 410 Fifth St. Rm. 410, Wausau, WI 54403; 715-848-5660. Or e-mail http://feingold.senate.gov and http://kohl.senate.gov.
Seventh District U.S. Rep. Dave Obey, 1401 Tower Ave., Suite 307, Superior, WI 54880-1553; phone 715-398-4426; e-mail via his web site at http://obey.house.gov.
Gov. Doyle is urging Wisconsin residents to “make sure the federal government sees very clearly the human face of SeniorCare.” He urged residents to share their personal SeniorCare stories by writing Sec. Mike Leavitt, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 200 Independence Ave. S.W., Washington, D.C. 20201.
Doyle stated, “Let me be perfectly clear: if the federal government chooses (to) not approve our petition, the SeniorCare program could no longer function. In that event, participants would be forced into Medicare Part D, and will pay more money for their prescriptions.”
He added that SeniorCare saved Wisconsin Seniors $200 million in prescription drug costs in 2006, and “was a better choice than the Medicare Part D drug benefit for about 95 percent of those participating.”
You may also wish to contact your state representatives to see where they stand on SeniorCare. …
In the 87th Assembly District you may reach Rep. Mary Williams at Room 17 West, State Capitol, PO Box 8953, Madison, WI 53708; 608-266-7506, Rep.WilliamsM@legis.wisconsin.gov.
The 29th District is represented by Sen. Russ Decker, Room 122 South, State Capitol, PO Box 7882, Madison, WI 53707-7882; 608-266-2502; Sen.Decker@legis.wisconsin.gov.
Constituents can also register concerns for either of above state legislators by the toll-free Legislative Hotline at 1-800-362-9472.
If you believe that SeniorCare is a program worth preserving, now is the time to act, contact your elected officials now. The 108,000 voices of SeniorCare should be heard.
Lyle Delap and Geri Wallin,
Oneida County Benefit Specialists