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July 23, 2001

Governor Signs Bill Assisting Seniors in Circuit Breaker Program

SPRINGFIELD - Governor George H. Ryan today signed HB 2438 making significant administrative changes intended to simplify the State's Pharmaceutical Assistance program, also known as the Circuit Breaker Program.

"This is a simple change to Illinois' expanded program to assist seniors with payment for prescription medication and will help ensure qualifying seniors get the medication they need," Governor Ryan said. "Seniors will have time to make their application and to correct any omissions or errors, without facing loss of the benefit."

Currently there are 150,753 seniors benefiting from the program, three times the number who qualified one year ago. The increase follows the January 1 implementation of higher income limits, expanded disease coverage, and reduced costs for participation. The expanded program:

  • Raised income limits from $16,000 per household to $21,218 for a single person and $28,480 for a couple.

  • Reduced cost of coverage from $40 to $5 for persons below the poverty level and from $80 to $25 for those above the level.

  • Eliminated monthly deductibles.

  • Added coverage for Alzheimer's Disease, cancer, glaucoma, lung disease and smoking related illnesses, Parkinson's Disease and, (effective July 1, 2001) osteoporosis, to existing coverage for arthritis, diabetes, and heart and cardiovascular diseases.

HB 2438 shifts the Pharmaceutical Assistance program's administration to a fiscal year basis rather than a calendar year basis. Under previous law, Pharmaceutical Assistance cards expired one year from the date they were issued. With the signing of HB 2438 all cards will be valid from July 1 through June 30 of the following year.

The bill, which becomes effective immediately, also provides that Pharmaceutical Assistance cards can be valid for a period longer or shorter than one year, which is necessary to convert all cards to the new uniform June 30 fiscal year ending date.

Seniors whose cards are scheduled to expire between January 1, 2002 and June 16, 2002 will have their cards extended until June 30, 2002. Seniors participating in the Circuit Breaker program will be notified of the extension by mail.

HB 2438 passed both houses of the General Assembly unanimously. House sponsors include Representatives Elizabeth Coulson, R-Glenview; Mary K. O'Brien, D-Coal City; Jack McGuire, D-Joliet; Art Tenhouse, R-Liberty and Louis Lang, D-Skokie. Senate sponsors include Senators Christine Radogno, R-LaGrange; Kathleen Parker, R-Northbrook and Ira Silverstein, D-Chicago.


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