Gov. Walker proposes 40% cut to SeniorCare program - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Gov. Walker proposes 40% cut to SeniorCare program

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wisconsin) wants to cut SeniorCare by $15 million, which accounts for roughly 40 percent of the budget for the prescription drug program for low-income seniors.

Bringing back a proposal from 2011, Governor Walker wants to require people enrolled in SeniorCare to first sign up for Medicare Part D - the federal prescription drug plan for seniors.

"By having eligible individuals first enroll in Medicare Part D, state funds for SeniorCare will be preserved for wraparound services for drugs that Medicare Part D may not cover," reads a statement sent to 27 News by Gov. Walker's Spokesperson Laurel Patrick.

In other words, SeniorCare would cover any drugs that Medicare Part D doesn't.

Rep. Andy Jorgensen (D-Milton) tells 27 News he is stunned Gov. Walker is bringing the proposal back.

"This is something we've done before.  The people of Wisconsin rose up.  The leaders of the Republican Party thought better of it and it wasn't in his budget at the end of the day," said Rep. Jorgensen.  "I just want to know why Governor Walker is going here again.  What's wrong with him?"

Under SeniorCare, Wisconsin can negotiate with pharmaceutical companies for cheaper drugs than recipients can often get through Medicare Part D.  In fact, the state program is about $90 million cheaper annually for federal taxpayers than it would be if the same 85,000 enrollees were all on Medicare Part D.  It also has lower co-pays and fewer coverage gaps.

Rep. Jorgensen said he is already taking steps to make sure the Legislative Joint Finance Committee pulls the measure out of the budget once again.

"We are now starting another petition drive - immediately when I saw this - I thought well we have to do this again," said Rep. Jorgensen, credits a petition drive in 2011 with removing the SeniorCare cut from that budget.  

SeniorCare pays prescription drug costs for eligible seniors at varying degrees depending on income level.
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