Thursday, July 8


Pharmaceutical assistance program transfers to improve service     Send a link to a friend

[JULY 8, 2004]  SPRINGFIELD -- Older and disabled people in Illinois are expected to see an improvement in service as a result of a program consolidation in two state agencies. Service and administration activities for the Circuit Breaker Pharmaceutical Assistance program, which aids low-income people in paying for prescription drugs, was scheduled to be moved to the Department on Aging from the Department of Revenue July 1.

"This move was made for two reasons," said Charles D. Johnson, director of the Department on Aging. "First, it promises to improve customer service to seniors, a hallmark of the new administration in Springfield.

"And second, it is practical. It makes good sense for a social services program to be run by a social services agency."

The program, Johnson said, will remain the same; about 59,000 older and disabled people served by the state program will experience no change in benefits or eligibility. Service will continue, he said, there is no need for beneficiaries to do anything.

The only thing that will change, he said, is that service will be provided by a department that is familiar with the needs of older people and their families and knows all of the programs that serve older people.

"State government is beginning a new focus on customer service," Johnson said. "This is one of the first steps toward a goal of better service to everyone in the state.

"Now clients of the Circuit Breaker Pharmaceutical Assistance Program can meet other needs and find answers to other questions that may be bothering them without having to make a second call. We want to offer our older clients that opportunity to make one call, one stop for all their needs."

The Circuit Breaker program includes a grant for income-eligible Illinoisans. The program also includes a discount on the state auto license plate fee.

Pharmaceutical assistance under the program helps eligible people pay for drugs to treat the 10 conditions most common in later life: Alzheimer's disease, arthritis, cancer, diabetes, glaucoma, heart and blood pressure problems, lung disease and smoking-related illnesses, multiple sclerosis, osteoporosis, and Parkinson's disease.


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In addition, beneficiaries also automatically receive the Illinois Rx Buying Club card, which entitles them to discounts on all other FDA-approved drugs at participating retail drug stores throughout the country.

The benefits are available to Illinois residents who were 65 before Jan. 1, totally disabled or a person at least 63 who is the survivor of a spouse who received or was eligible to receive program benefits at the time of death.

To qualify as disabled, applicants must be at least 16 and receive disability benefits from the Social Security Administration, the Veterans Administration, Civil Service or Railroad Retirement and have either a Class 2 disability card from the Illinois secretary of state's office or a completed Schedule A doctor's statement. Total income in 2003 must be no more than $21,218 for a single person, $28,480 for a couple or $35,740 for three qualified residents.

Circuit Breaker is one of two state-run programs that aid low-income senior and disabled people in paying for prescription drugs. Income eligibility for aid through SeniorCare, the second program, is $18,620 for a single and $24,980 for couples. Applicants for help in Illinois are automatically placed in the program most appropriate for their income levels. A third program, the Illinois Rx Buying Club, offers discounts on all FDA-approved drugs to older and disabled people at all income levels.

For more information, call the Senior HelpLine, 1 (800) 252-8966 by voice or TTY or call the Circuit Breaker Pharmaceutical Assistance Program, 1 (800) 624-2459.

[Illinois Department on Aging news release]

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