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New Law Makes Medicaid Money Available to More Seniors

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APEX — A new law that took effect Jan. 1 provides more senior citizens with access to the medications they need to live. People with disabilities will also benefit.

The average senior takes up to four different drugs a day, and that can amount to hundreds of dollars a month. Prescription drugs are a huge cost to elderly people on fixed incomes who sometimes have to choose between eating and taking their medication.

Under the new law, about 36,000 people in North Carolina will be eligible to receive money to help them cover that cost.

The newMedicaidexpansion law increases the qualifying limit to $671 for one person. People earning more than the qualifying limit still have the same deductible.

The increase brings North Carolina up to federal poverty standards and improves the quality of life for thousands of seniors state-wide.

"One of the most common things we have with diabetics [is] a lot of those supplies aren't covered," says Health Team Pharmacist Alicia Underwood.

"You're looking at your needles, some of the insulin, and a lot of the test strips that they need to measure the amount of blood sugar in their blood, they're very expensive," Underwood says. "And you look at paying $100 - 150 a month of something that's not covered in addition to your prescription medications. Who can afford it?"

People who meet the income requirements must also be 65 or older to qualify; the disabled are also covered under this law. For couples, the income limit is $905 a month. For questions about eligibility, call Careline at (800) 662-7030. In Raleigh, call 733-4261.

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Ericka Lewis, Reporter
John Cox, Photographer
Julie Moos, Web Editor

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