Many older Mainers are struggling with the rising costs of food, health care and basic, everyday expenses. Imagine not having money to heat your home in the winter. Imagine having to choose between food and life-saving medication. Maine’s Drugs for the Elderly program (DEL) helps pay for prescription drugs for low-income Mainers who are 62 or older and not yet eligible for Medicare. The proposed elimination of the DEL to help balance Maine’s budget will be nothing short of devastating to the 80,000 individuals in the program. The state has alternatives. At-risk seniors and the disabled do not.

To suggest that DEL beneficiaries can get their prescription drugs cheaply at national pharmacy chains, hospitals or through discounts from the pharmaceutical companies themselves is short-sighted. First of all, not every brand-name drug has a generic equivalent for a lower cost, and while it might be possible to get a limited supply of a drug directly from the pharmaceutical company, this is not a sustainable option. Our most vulnerable residents need a sustainable solution that makes sense. They need the DEL.

While I recognize the need for a balanced budget, eliminating prescription drug coverage for at-risk elderly people is not the best way to save money. Individuals in the DEL have nothing to spare. In fact, eliminating the DEL could force many who are in the program into institutional care — a much more expensive outcome for the state.

Priscilla Parisien

AARP Maine Executive Council

Portland

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