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Assemblyman Oaks Announces Restoration Of $30.6 Million Of EPIC Funds

Assemblyman Robert Oaks (R-C, Macedon) announced that funding was restored for New York’s EPIC program as a part of the 2012-13 New York State budget, bringing back co-payment assistance that was cut in last’s year’s budget.

Under the restoration, seniors on EPIC, the Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage program, would go back to paying no more than $20 co-payments for each prescription instead of paying 25 percent of the cost of the drug.

EPIC is used to help people 65 and older pay most out-of-pocket expenses associated with their Medicare Part D prescription plans.

Before the restoration of the $30.6 million, it did not help with those expenses until enrollees reached the coverage limit or “doughnut hole” in their Medicare Part D drug plans.

Enrollees did not hit the limit until their annual retail drug expenses reached $2,930. Until then, enrollees were paying 25 percent of a prescription’s co-pay at the pharmacy counter.

Assemblyman Oaks said many of his district’s seniors using the EPIC program contacted his office, asking that program funding be restored because they found the cost of their prescriptions had skyrocketed.

In some cases, people were paying as much as $90 more per prescription than they had paid previously.

A number of seniors said they were being forced to ask their physicians for alternate medications because they could not afford the ones that were prescribed.

There are more than 285,000 state residents, with 16,000 of them in Central New York, enrolled in EPIC.

The average enrollee is 78 years old and takes four prescription drugs, according to the AARP.