DOVER – Seniors struggling to afford their prescription medications are one step closer to receiving state assistance after a unanimous Senate vote on Tuesday.
Senate Bill 228 revives the Delaware Prescription Drug Payment Assistance Program, which was cut in last year’s race to cover a $354 million budget shortfall. The General Assembly, responding to a sunnier budget forecast for Fiscal Year 2019, is setting aside $2,000,000 per year for the program. Those funds will be drawn from the same 1999 tobacco settlement that funded the program’s creation in 2000.
Like in previous years, the program would be extended to Delawareans 65 and older who are under 200% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) or have prescription drug expenses that exceed 40% of their annual income.
“By the time the ink had dried on last year’s budget, we had already started drafting the bill to bring back this vital program,” said Senate Pro Tempore David McBride, D-Hawks Nest. “Many seniors are living on fixed incomes and changes to their cost of living directly affect their quality of life. As legislators and neighbors, we can’t allow that to happen. I am very proud of our chamber for getting this done today and I thank all my colleagues for doing what is right for Delaware seniors.”
Leaders on the other side of Legislative Hall agreed.
“I am so pleased to see legislation to re-establish the Delaware Prescription Drug Payment Assistance Program pass the Senate,” said House Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf, D-Rehoboth Beach. “The detrimental cut that was made last year to the program needed to be restored – this program provides much-needed relief to our seniors and their prescription drug costs.”
If passed in the House and signed by Governor Carney, the program will return in January of 2019.