Supporters of Maine Medicare Savings Program Concerned with Proposed Cuts
Governor LePage’s proposed budget includes cutting more than 14 million dollars over two years to Maine’s Medicare Savings Program.As Meghan Hayward tells us, supporters of the program say the cuts would drop about 40,000 Mainers off the program.Maine’s Medicare Savings Program helps seniors and folks with disabilities pay for prescription medication.The money comes from the Fund for Healthy Maine.Noelle Merrill, Executive Director for Eastern Area Agency on Aging, says she doesn’t think Mainers are aware of how critical these cuts are.”We’re going to be seeing a lot of people, probably about 8,000, are affected in the four counties we cover and 40,000 statewide. They will all see reduced benefits.”As the proposal stands, any individual who makes more than 1,225 a month would be cut from the program. the highest level now is 1,700.”What most of them will choose is they will stop taking their prescriptions and in worse cases, they won’t get the care they need. They’ll stop going to their doctor if they have high co-pays. They’ll split their pills. And this is just not a good solution.”The proposal has senior Margie Higgins worried.”It would be devastating because right now my income, after my rent is paid, I have $408 a month and if I had to pay insurance, my medicine, as well as my food, lights and telephone, it would be devastating. I couldn’t do it.”Higgins thinks officials in Augusta aren’t considering the whole picture.”If they cut people like myself then we’re going to end up in hospitals, emergency rooms, nursing homes, long-term care or whatever. Overall it’s going to be a disaster.”They encourage folks to get in contact with lawmakers to voice their concerns about the proposed cuts.Weather permitted, there is a public hearing scheduled on this issue in Augusta Friday at 1 pm. For more information visit www.maine.gov.