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Prescription drug workshop helps Wash. Co. seniors navigate program

December 19, 2008|By DAN DEARTH

With the cost of prescription drugs on the rise, senior citizens living on a fixed income might find it hard to afford their medicine.

But thanks to the Maryland Senior Prescription Drug Assistance Program, seniors who spend $2,700 to $4,350 a year on medicine could be eligible to receive as much as $1,200 in financial assistance under what is known as the donut hole subsidy.

About 55 seniors from Washington County attended a workshop Thursday at the Plaza Hotel near Hagerstown to determine whether they qualified.

Jody Gan, an Senior Prescription Drug Assistance Program outreach counselor, said seniors must earn less than $31,200 for a single person and $42,000 for a couple to be considered.

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"It's a complicated program that the state is helping seniors navigate through," Gan said.

State officials have tried to draw seniors to the program by holding more than 40 workshops across the state since Nov. 15, Gan said. No more will be held this year in Washington County.

About 7,500 Marylanders could be eligible to receive assistance, according to statistics.

Hagerstown resident Kenneth Needy said he was pretty familiar with the program but attended the workshop Thursday to get more information.

Needy said it was hard to say how much he spends on prescription drugs, but he said his costs have increased about tenfold over the last three years.

"I think (the program) is great," Needy said. "This assistance is very good."

Patsy Kerns of Hancock said she attended to learn more as well.

"I really came to find information about the drug plans and government help," she said. "If help would be available, I likely (would apply)."

To participate in a workshop, seniors have to bring their Medicare card, a list of their prescription drugs and a form from their pharmacy showing their monthly drug costs.

People who want to learn more about the program may call 1-800-551-5995.

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