On Jan. 29, I testified before the Appropriations and Health and Human Services committees at the State House. I testified as a volunteer member of the AARP Capitol City Task Force and as a senior on a fixed income.

I urged the committees to reject cuts to the Low Cost Drugs for the Elderly and Disabled Program.

Many older Mainers are struggling with the rising costs of food, health care and heat for their homes. Maine’s low-cost drug program helps pay for prescription drugs for low-income Mainers who are 62 or older and not yet eligible for Medicare. The proposed cuts to the program are nothing short of devastating. The state has alternatives. At-risk seniors and the disabled do not.

To suggest that beneficiaries of the low-cost drug program can get their prescription drugs cheaply at national pharmacy chains or through discounts from the pharmaceutical companies themselves is short-sighted. Not every brand-name drug has a generic equivalent for a lower cost, and, while it might be possible to get a starter supply of a drug directly from the pharmaceutical company, this is not a sustainable option.

AARP is fighting on the issues that matter to Mainers and their families. We recognize the need for a balanced budget, but eliminating prescription drug coverage for elderly people is not the best way to save money. The state must not balance the budget on the backs of those who have absolutely nothing to give.

Rena Heath

AARP Capitol City Task Force

Hallowell

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