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State Expands Drug Assistance For Seniors

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RALEIGH, N.C. — A state program covering prescription drugs for seniors will open up to another 150,000 participants, cut out-of-pocket costs and double the list of covered drugs.

Officials say the new program, called

North Carolina Senior Care

, will help seniors not covered by Medicare or private insurance plans.

"North Carolina seniors have earned these benefits," said Easley. "Our seniors have worked long and hard to make this state great, and the expanded Senior Care program is just one way we can help improve the quality of their lives."

The enhanced program offers a drug benefit that covers 90 percent of the cost for most prescription drugs and insulin. It increases the upper income threshold from $17,720 to $23,275 for individuals and $23,880 to $31,225 for married couples and it removes the diagnosis restrictions on eligibility, which means that an additional 150,000 North Carolina seniors are now eligible for Senior Care.

The program also more than doubles the list of covered drugs to include virtually all prescription drugs and insulin. The enrollee's out-of-pocket costs will decrease from 40 percent to just 5 percent to 10 percent, depending on income.

The benefit increases significantly from $600 per year to a total of $2400 from Sept. 1, 2004 through the end of 2005. To receive both years' benefits, new enrollees must register for the program by Nov. 15.

To be eligible for the expanded Senior Care program, a person must meet the following criteria:

  • Be age 65 or older
  • Have a total annual income not exceeding $23,275 if single; and $31,225 if married.
  • Not be eligible for Medicaid or other third-party prescription drug insurance benefits.
  • Senior Care was originally funded with money from the national tobacco settlement through the Health and Wellness Trust Fund. Additional funding comes from the federal Medicare program. The program is administered by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

    The Senior Care program has partnered with Community CareRx to combine state and federal benefits for low-income seniors into one easy-to-use card.

    Seniors already enrolled in Senior Care will automatically be enrolled in the enhanced program. Seniors wishing to enroll in the program should call (866) 226-1388 or visit the

    Senior Care website

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