A group of Democratic state lawmakers, senior citizens and advocates assembled with a message, “Save SeniorCare.” At a capitol press conference Wednesday, Representative Andy Jorgensen of Fort Atkinson says the state’s prescription drug coverage for the elderly is a very efficient program which has resulted in a surplus.
“But Governor Walker and his budget plan would raid SeniorCare’s $20 million surplus and apply it to the state’s budget deficit.”
The Fort Atkinson lawmaker adds under SeniorCare the state can negotiate for lower payments with pharmaceutical companies, while Medicare does not have that bargaining option.
Governor Walker says the state will save $15 million by making 90,000 Wisconsinites go on Medicare Part D. Denise Grossman, who handles elderly benefits for Jefferson County, says the change will result in higher costs and more bureaucracy for consumers. Since Part D’s implementation in 2006, she has seen the “most dramatic increase” in time spent on any one particular elderly issue in her twenty years in the field due to the complex nature of the federal program.
The Democrats have petitions around the state opposing Walker’s proposed SeniorCare policy, changes which would require federal approval.
Some Republicans have broken from the Governor’s plans including Joint Finance Committee Co-Chair Alberta Darling. However Jorgensen says the changes are still included in the budget, “and my hope is something will come up but so far, nothing.”
State Health Secretary Dennis Smith has said his agency’s budget is about getting rid of duplication and layers of bureaucracy but admits there could be other ways beside SeniorCare cuts.