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Wisconsin Seeks 10-Year SeniorCare Renewal

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Tuesday, May 15, 2018   

MADISON, Wis. – Wisconsin's popular SeniorCare program is up for renewal this year, and advocates are pushing to have it secured through 2028. Ten years is the longest federal waiver available to keep the program going.

About 92,000 lower-income Wisconsinites age 65 and older are enrolled in SeniorCare, which is a program funded with a combination of state and federal dollars. SeniorCare advocates say the program is easier to navigate than Medicare 'Part D' and fills in some of the gaps in coverage.

Helen Marks Dicks is the state issues advocacy director for AARP Wisconsin. She points out that some people even enroll in both programs.

"It supplements Part D, for some people it gives a better benefit," she says. "For some people, it's less costly."

She says SeniorCare saves older folks thousands of dollars a year and makes it easier to budget for prescription drugs, since all co-pays are $5 for generic and $15 for name-brands, and annual deductibles top out between $500 and $850. But the program has its critics, who say it duplicates some of the coverage of Medicare Part D.

Marks Dicks says Wisconsin has kept SeniorCare because it's been successful and popular with older residents. At one point, most states had their own, similar programs, but she says many of those ended with the creation of Medicare Part D.

"When that happened, many of the states stopped their state-specific drug programs, because they thought people should go to Part D," she explains.

The state is seeking public comment about SeniorCare, which can be sent by email to DHSSeniorcare@dhs.wisconsin.gov. Comments need to be submitted by June 7, as the state will send in its waiver application on June 15.


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