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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 18, 2001

Governor Ryan Announces Expansion of Circuit Breaker Program

SPRINGFIELD -- Gov. George H. Ryan today announced that effective July 1, osteoporosis will be added to the list of diseases covered by Illinois' Pharmaceutical Assistance Program.

"Seniors need to know of this latest Circuit Breaker expansion to help them fight skyrocketing drug costs," Governor Ryan said. "I urge everyone who knows or works with senior citizens to help spread the word about this new cost saving benefit."

All 143,702 individuals who are participants in the program as of June 16 will automatically receive the new coverage.

"I am most concerned with those seniors who may not have applied for Pharmaceutical Assistance coverage before, because Osteoporosis was not included," Governor Ryan said. "Those persons need to apply as soon as possible."

Governor Ryan directed the Department on Aging to spread the word on Osteoporosis coverage through the statewide network of Area Agencies on Aging. He also directed the Department of Revenue to enlist the help of pharmacists to inform seniors of the change.

The Pharmaceutical Assistance Program is part of the Circuit Breaker Program administered by the Department of Revenue. Illinoisians who qualify for the Circuit Breaker Program can purchase Pharmaceutical Assistance coverage.

Individuals whose household income is less than $21,218 and couples whose income is less than $28,480 qualify for the program. The coverage costs $5 for those below the poverty level and $25 for persons above that level. There is no co-payment for participants below the poverty level and a $3 per prescription co-payment for those above the poverty level.

Effective January 1, prescriptions for the treatment of Alzheimer's Disease, cancer, glaucoma, Parkinson's Disease, and lung disease and smoking-related illnesses were added to the existing coverage for arthritis, diabetes, and heart and blood pressure diseases. Osteoporosis will be added July 1.

"Individuals with osteoporosis are prone to fractures and require medication to counteract loss of bone mass," said Aging Director Margo Schreiber. "This will be welcome news to many older people who are managing what can be a very painful disease."

As of June 16, there were 143,702 persons receiving benefits under the Pharmaceutical Assistance Program, the highest number ever. A year ago there were 51,517 persons in the program.

Glen L. Bower, Director of Revenue, urged new applicants to come to a Department of Revenue office or to visit their local senior center or assistance site to get help in preparing the application.

"Revenue employees are ready to help seniors apply for the program," Bower said. "At this point in the year, we are turning around complete and accurate applications in four weeks."

Information is available by calling the Department on Aging Senior HelpLine at (800) 252-8966 (voice and TTY) or the Department of Revenue's toll free line at (800) 624-2459.


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