POSTED: Tuesday, April 9, 2013 - 6:30pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, April 10, 2013 - 8:59am
BATON ROUGE, La. (NBC33) — Victoria Howes is one of thousands of seniors relying on the Senior RX program, a program that could face elimination in the governor's proposed budget.
"I can not make it without these medicines," explained Howes, "I would just, go ahead and sign my death certificate because on this day, April 9th 2013, I won't be here if you decide to close this program.
"This does not cost the state a penny. The state spends about a million dollars on employees to run the program, but the medicine is free from the pharmaceutical companies,” explained Beryl Mitchell with the Capital Area Agency on Aging.
Those who testified to the Appropriations committee Tuesday weren’t just asking lawmakers to save their programs. Some were hoping to have a little more funding for their programs, in order to meet growing demand.
"We're trying to increase the number of people who can get the NOW waiver. We've got 10,000 people waiting in line who need assistance to operate independently, to function, to get the therapies that they need. The list needs to be expanded and more assistance given to more people," said Lynette Peter. Peter has a child who has been on the NOW Waiver waiting list for years. NOW helps provide services for children and adults with developmental disabilities and strives to help them live independently.
Some, like those fighting for NOW Waiver funding, left the capitol tentatively optimistic. At least one lawmaker said he was so moved by testimony he heard, he is going to author an amendment to save the Senior RX program.
"It's a free program for seniors and our seniors rely on that every day to get them through the day. And it may be a matter of cutting from somewhere else, but that's the way it goes. I think it's a moral obligation to support our elderly population throughout the state," said Rep. Jared Brossett, a democrat on the appropriations committee.
The legislature has to agree on and pass a budget by the sessions close on June 6th.
The Jindal administration released a statement to the media Tuesday Evening in reaction to Howes and others testimony. "The Senior Rx program reduction does not affect direct delivery of healthcare services. Senior RX does not provide direct care services, but instead serves as a coordination medium to provide other program and enrollment information," the press release stated.
The release urged seniors utilizing the program to use a website with a list of free pharmaceuticals. That site can be found below: