Kulongoski Enrolls Seniors in Oregon Prescription Drug Program; Pushes for Program Expansion

Kulongoski Enrolls Seniors in Oregon Prescription Drug Program; Pushes for Program Expansion

For Immediate Release
September 20, 2006

Contact: Anna Richter Taylor, 503.546.0416

Portland - Today, Governor Kulongoski joined representatives from Oregonians for Health Security for the first of a series of events urging Congress to close the "donut hole" in the Medicare Prescription Drug Program. The controversial plan drug currently suspends coverage at $2,250, requiring seniors to pick up 100% of the cost of their medicines until they have paid nearly $3,000 in additional out-of-pocket costs.

The Governor also highlighted a unique, forward-looking waiver the state has secured to help seniors cover the gap through the Oregon Prescription Drug Program (OPDP) and encouraged all eligibile Oregon seniors to enroll in the program.

"Prescription drugs are a basic necessity for many American seniors. The Medicare drug plan is a good first step, but this gap in coverage still puts a steady supply of these life-saving treatments out of reach for too many," Governor Kulongoski said. "Luckily, here in Oregon, seniors can cut those costs with help from the Oregon Prescription Drug Program."

A typical Medicare recipient who has enrolled in the new Part D program will exhaust the program's initial benefit ($2,250) this week and will now have to pay 100% of the cost of their prescription drugs. Benefits begin again after $5,100.

"Everyone knows that you must take your prescriptions on a steady basis. But the Bush plan's donut hole risks seniors forgoing their medicines because they can't cover their bills and that is a problem I could not ignore," the Governor continued. "That's why I requested and received a waiver from the federal government to allow Medicare beneficiaries enroll in both the federal prescription drug program and the Oregon Prescription Drug Program - so seniors can continue to afford their medicine during the gap period."

At Loaves and Fishes, the Governor helped dozens of seniors sign up for the OPDP - the state's bulk purchasing program that has reduced out-of-pocket costs for medicine for low-income seniors by up to 60% since it was enacted.

Governor Kulongoski also called on Oregon voters to pass Measure 44, which would expand eligibility for the OPDP to all Oregonians without prescription drug coverage. Currently, only Oregonians over 54 making less than $18,000 a year and with no prescription coverage are eligible for the program.


Posted on September 22, 2006