Lecture Series to Help Seniors with Epic Changes

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State Sen. Joseph P. Addabbo is co-sponsoring a lecture series, “Changes to EPIC,” with a representative from the state Department of Health’s Medicare-EPIC Program, Gema Diaz.

The series will run from August through October at various senior centers or AARP chapters in the senator’s district and covers the changes to New York’s Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage (EPIC) prescription drug program, now that the 2012-13 state budget restored $30.6 million. This will reinstate co-payment assistance for almost 300,000 EPIC enrollees, thereby returning the EPIC program to two plans again.

In January, more than a quarter of a million seniors around New York State were affected by major cuts to the EPIC prescription-drug program. Consequently, EPIC provided prescription drug coverage only after a member fell into the Medicare prescription coverage gap (known as the “doughnut hole”) when the total drug costs for an individual reached $2,930.

Currently, seniors enrolled in the EPIC program are forced to pay 25 percent of the cost of each prescription drug. With the co-payment assistance restored, enrollees will return to paying no more than $20 co-payment for each prescription.

All EPIC members will be notified of the changes, and how they will be affected, by letter. Eligibility requirements remain the same: NYS resident, 65 or older, with income up to $35,000 single or $50,000 married. Applicants cannot be receiving full Medicaid benefits but may have a Medicaid spenddown.

If a member cancels their Medicare Part D coverage, they will not receive any benefits from EPIC and coverage may be canceled. Members must have Part D in order to receive EPIC benefits and maintain EPIC coverage.

To help local seniors prepare for these changes coming January 1, 2013, Addabbo has set the first two EPIC lectures this month on Tuesday, Aug. 14, at 10:45 a.m. at the Howard Beach Senior Center, located at 156- 45 84th St.; and Thursday, Aug. 16, at 11 a.m. at the Maspeth Senior Center, located at 69-61 Grand Ave.

Two more lectures are set for September and three more will continue the series in October.

For more information, call Addabbo’s district offices in Howard Beach 1-718-738-1111 and Middle Village at 1-718-497-1630

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