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The Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Executive Department

State House Boston, MA 02133

(617) 725-4000











February 21, 2003 CONTACT:

Shawn Feddeman

Nicole St. Peter

(617) 725-4025






Calls on HHS, Elder Affairs Secretaries to Develop Alternative Plan for Seniors


Governor Mitt Romney today said he will create a discount program to reduce the high cost of prescription drugs for all Massachusetts seniors, tasking Health and Human Services Secretary Ron Preston and Elder Affairs Secretary Jennifer Carey with developing a plan by the end of March.


“Seniors in Massachusetts and across the nation are facing skyrocketing prescription drug costs,” Romney said. “I have instructed my health care team to develop a discount program to ease the burden on all of our senior citizens.”


Romney noted the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has before it a waiver request that would reimburse the state half its costs for the Prescription Advantage program, the only program of its kind in the nation. Without the federal support, the state will be forced to shut down the program on June 30, the end of the fiscal year.


Romney noted that less than 10 percent of all the state’s senior population is currently enrolled in the Prescription Advantage program, and that is why he is proposing a new discount plan that benefits all seniors.


“Massachusetts is one of the most generous states in the nation. But we will only be as generous as we can afford to be,” Romney said. “Prescription Advantage now costs roughly $100 million a year to administer and our budget is strained to the breaking point. If Washington doesn’t pass the waiver we are requesting, fiscal reality will require us to end the program.”


Massachusetts is the only state in the nation to have a universal drug program, which was added in April 2001 during a time when the state’s coffers were flush with cash. If the waiver is approved, the federal government will reimburse the Bay State 50 cents on the dollar for people in the program who are at or below 188 percent of the poverty level. This cash infusion will result in $40-$50 million flowing from Washington to the Prescription Advantage and protect benefits for seniors.


Even with the shut down of the Prescription Advantage program, low-income seniors on MassHealth will continue to receive prescription drug benefits at no cost to them.

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