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WASHINGTON — Republican and Democrat House of Representatives members from Wisconsin, including U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil, a Janesville Republican, are banning together to advocate for Wisconsin’s SeniorCare program.

On March 25, the bipartisan state delegation in the House of Representatives sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar asking for a “long-term extension” to the program that was scheduled to expire on March 31.

“Wisconsin’s SeniorCare program provides prescription drug assistance to low-income seniors, age 65 and older, whose income does not exceed 240 percent of the federal poverty level,” the letter states. “More than 45,000 seniors throughout our state rely on federal matching funds for the SeniorCare program to purchase affordable life-saving medications. To deny approval of a long-term extension would cause potential breaks in prescription drug coverage, confusion, and bureaucratic problems for vulnerable seniors who are otherwise satisfied with their coverage.”

SeniorCare has been in place in Wisconsin since July 2002 and covers most generic and brand name prescription drugs and over-the-counter insulin. There are nearly 1,600 seniors in Racine County that use the program, according to Steil’s office.

“This successful program has proven to be a responsible steward of taxpayer funds, while providing quality care to our state’s seniors,” the letter states. “SeniorCare saves Medicaid money and has consistently achieved budget neutrality.”

The Wisconsin delegation was granted its extension, but until April 30.

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If legislation is not passed or some other solution is reached, it is up to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to decide to extend the program. But it’s possible federal funding for the program could end.

Longer extension sought

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services, which administers the program, is requesting a 10-year renewal of the SeniorCare Prescription Assistance Program to December 31, 2028.

The April 30 extension was the second short-term extension of the program in 2019, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services are currently evaluating a 10-year extension.

Steil, whose 1st Congressional District includes all of Racine County, is in favor of a long-term solution and said SeniorCare uses taxpayer dollars efficiently and has consistently achieved budget neutrality.

“We must give our seniors certainty and ensure the program is stable. SeniorCare is an effective program,” Steil said. “For 17 years, Wisconsin’s SeniorCare program has garnered bipartisan support and assisted seniors with the costs of prescription drugs. I look forward to reviewing CMS’ decision and acting accordingly come April 30.”

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