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  2004 Press Releases  

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Januari Smith
Phone: 1-217-558-1544, TTY: 1-800-252-8966

September 16, 2004

State, Federal Funding Provides Health Coverage for Elderly

SPRINGFIELD – While a growing number of people across the nation are uninsured, a safety net of state and federal programs has assured older people in Illinois access to essential medical care.

According to a report by the U.S. Census Bureau, Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2003, the number of Americans across the country without any type of health insurance coverage rose to 45 million. But here in Illinois, that number is not as dismal compared to the rest of the country.

"Thanks to SeniorCare, Circuit Breaker and the Rx Buying Club, we are able to improve the quality of life for the older people in our state," said Charles D. Johnson, Director of the Illinois Department on Aging. "These programs show the state’s absolute commitment to seniors."

Over the past few years, the state of Illinois has continually increased funding and expanded eligibility requirements for its SeniorCare and Circuit Breaker Pharmaceutical Assistance programs to ensure coverage for those who need it. In the fiscal year 2005 budget that was passed in late July and began July 1, nearly $400 million was appropriated for the two programs that provide low-income senior citizens with assistance in purchasing necessary prescription drugs and some over-the-counter medications.

"These state-sponsored programs help lower the cost of prescription drugs for older people," Director Johnson explained. "The programs, combined with Medicare, make the difference between living with dignity and living in poverty for hundreds of thousands of older people in our state."

As of Sept. 1, 2004, there were approximately 60,000 people enrolled in the Circuit Breaker Pharmaceutical Assistance Program and nearly 200,000 participants in SeniorCare. In 2002, the year SeniorCare was established, those numbers were 51,814 and 148,139 respectively.

"I am sorry to see that the federal government appears to be shifting away from providing support for our people. If health care needs are deferred now by an uninsured population, in later life, lack of earlier care will result in chronic disease that is more difficult – and more expensive – to treat." Director Johnson added.

"Just as we created the Rx Buying Club, the Circuit Breaker Pharmaceutical Assistance Program and SeniorCare to help seniors pay for the high cost of drugs, our state is moving ahead with hopeful initiatives like the push for reimportation of drugs and the new health-insurance planning bill."

For more information, call the Senior HelpLine: 1-800-252-8966 (Voice and TTY) .

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