"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
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.
[to top of second column in
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
information, call the Senior HelpLine, 1 (800) 252-8966 by voice or
TTY or call the Circuit Breaker Pharmaceutical Assistance Program, 1
Department on Aging news release]