Wisconsin's prescription drug program for seniors is available to those 65 and older. A democratic lawmaker wants to lower that age so more people can participate.
Ninety-one thousand Wisconsin residents are enrolled in SeniorCare. That number could grow because of demographics and a proposed change in who is eligible. Democratic Senator Tim Carpenter of Milwaukee is suggesting that 62 year olds be allowed to get prescription drug benefits through the popular program.
Carpenter points out that Wisconsin has a higher percentage of elderly persons than the national average, and the faltering economy has left some older workers unable to find jobs. At the same time, they are too young for Medicare's health benefits. "I've run into a lot of people who have lost their jobs that are over 50, late 50s and early 60s they're struggling to find jobs and health care things of that nature.”
SeniorCare is the state's alternative to the federal Medicare prescription drug program. It is the only such program in the U.S. and Wisconsin needs a federal waiver to continue SeniorCare. The Coalition of Wisconsin Aging Groups has worked to keep the program intact.
Executive director Nino Amato is receptive to the idea of allowing younger person to access lower cost medication. "Quite frankly I think the Senator's [Carpenter's] proposal has merit. The question is, how do you get those dollars?"
The SeniorCare program had a $20 million surplus two years ago, but tight finances have prompted proposals to use the money elsewhere in the state budget.