SPRINGFIELD – Seniors, disabled persons and their families are invited to a free workshop on Saturday to learn more about upcoming changes in federal and state prescription drug coverage.
The workshop will be held at 201 Lincoln Square in Urbana from 9 a.m. to noon on Sept. 17.
It is a "terrific opportunity" to get answers to questions about how the new programs will work, according to state Sen. Rick Winkel, R-Urbana.
"I want to make sure that every person who may be affected by these changes in federal law knows what steps they can take to protect themselves and ensure that they do not lose any coverage or see their out-of-pocket expenses increase," said a written release from state Rep. Naomi Jakobsson, D-Urbana.
The new Medicare prescription drug program is set to take effect in January, along with a new state program.
Starting in 2006, the federal government will pay 75 percent of the costs of prescription drugs up to $2,250 a year and any costs over $5,100 in a single year. Participants must pay a $250 deductible, a $35 monthly premium, and any expenses between $2,251 and $5,100.
The new state program, Illinois Cares Rx, is designed to cover those gaps in the federal program and to maintain prescription assistance for non-Medicare participants who are currently in the state's SeniorCare or Circuit Breaker programs.
"Seniors need to be aware that this program exists because it will prevent unnecessary out of pocket expenses," said a statement from state Sen. Dale Righter, R-Mattoon. "Seniors will continue to participate in the new federal Medicare program, but the state will pick up the bill for existing state benefits that will no longer be covered."
The state program is expected to protect more than 235,000 Illinois seniors and disabled citizens who would otherwise receive reduced assistance under the new federal program.
In addition to the workshop in Urbana, a workshop will be held from 9 a.m. to noon on Sept. 22 at the Effingham Senior Center in Effingham.
Information is also available through two toll-free hot lines. The Illinois Senior Health Insurance Program can be reached at 800-548-9034 and the Illinois Department on Aging's Senior Helpline is at 800-252-8966.