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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 9, 2001

Governor Proclaims January 8-14th Pharmaceutical Assistance Week to Highlight Circuit Breaker

CHICAGO --- Governor George H. Ryan proclaimed January 8-14, 2001 Pharmaceutical Assistance Week in Illinois, calling attention to the state's newly expanded Circuit Breaker/Pharmaceutical Assistance Program, which will help more people pay for prescription medications.

"The reform is expected to help more than 400,000 seniors and people with disabilities pay for prescription drugs," said Governor Ryan. "This will help people who have struggled to pay for their medications or have gone without them just to pay for other necessities."

Governor Ryan made this declaration at a dedication ceremony for the Rush - Barton Assisted Living Residence, the first low-income supportive living center for elderly Chicago residents. It is a joint venture between Rush-Presbyterian St. Luke's Medical Center and Barton Senior Care, and provides supportive services with specially trained staff to assist residents with daily living activities.

Governor Ryan attended the ground-breaking of the facility, located in the Illinois Medical District in September, 1999. The Illinois Housing Development Authority provided construction and permanent financing for the $14 million building.

"Since 1996, when the idea for this facility first took root, many levels of government and the private sector cooperated and collaborated on what could be done for the good of Illinois' seniors -- by allowing for the creation of supportive living facilities," said Governor Ryan.

The Circuit Breaker / Pharmaceutical Assistance Program expansion, which went into effect January 1st, raises the income eligibility cap from $16,000 to $21,218 for a one-person household. A two-person household can earn $28,480, and a three-person household can earn $35,740 and still qualify for the program.

A circuit breaker tax credit property tax relief gives back some of the money that qualified households pay in property taxes, mobile home taxes, rent or nursing home charges. Pharmaceutical Assistance pays for part of the costs for certain prescription medicines covered through the program. Eligible individuals also qualify for a vehicle license discount.

Participants receive help in paying for heart, blood pressure, arthritis and diabetes medications in addition to Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, glaucoma, cancer, lung disease and smoking-related illnesses.

Participants must apply for pharmaceutical assistance annually. The annual fee for coverage can be as low as $5. After total prescription costs for one year exceed $2000, then participants pay only 20 percent of the cost of each prescription.

The Illinois Department on Aging is educating the public about the changes and plans to launch its outreach campaign during Pharmaceutical Assistance Week. That campaign will include posters, brochures, and television and radio announcements. The materials also indicate where seniors may receive help locally in filling out applications.

"We're working intently to get the good news out about the expansion of the program," said Margo E. Schreiber, Director of the Illinois Department on Aging. "It is very important that seniors and their caregivers know they may qualify for help under the new guidelines."

For more information, contact the Illinois Department on Aging's Senior HelpLine at 1-800-252-8966 (voice and TTY).


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