Coalition Is Promoting Drug Discount Card for Low-Income People . . .

Pharmacy Times, Volume 0, 0

The Access to Benefits Coalition has launched a nationwide campaign toguarantee that 5.5 million low-income Medicare beneficiaries receive drug discountcards, with a bonus of $1200 in free medicine over the next 19months. The cards went into effect June 1, 2004, and will be used untilJanuary 1, 2006, when Medicare will cover outpatient medication costs.

The coalition, comprising 68 organizations, believes that the cards willprovide a savings for low-income Medicare recipients. Individuals withannual incomes of $12,569 or less and couples with incomes of $16,862 orless will be eligible for a credit of $600 a year on their cards.

The steering committee for the Access to Benefits Coalition includesrepresentatives from AARP, the Alzheimer's Association, Easter Seals, andthe National Alliance for Hispanic Health. "The best part of the new law iswhat it can do for low-income people. We intend to go out and get themenrolled. It's a daunting task," said Stephen R. McConnell, senior vicepresident of the Alzheimer's Association, as reported in the New York Times,May 24, 2004.

He noted that at least 10% of older Medicare beneficiaries have Alzheimer'sor other forms of dementia. Also, many have other chronic conditions,and their cost of medication is estimated to be 80% higher than theaverage for all beneficiaries.