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Viewpoint: SeniorCare's 10-year extension a testament to bipartisanship

Patty Schachtner

Sen. Patty Schachtner represents Wisconsin’s 10th senate district. The district covers parts of Burnett, Dunn, Pierce, Polk, and St. Croix counties.

In early April, Wisconsin seniors received great news. The successful SeniorCare prescription drug assistance program was approved for a 10-year extension by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

SeniorCare was created in 2002 with bipartisan support. Today, it helps over 50,000 seniors with the cost of their prescription drugs. The program works like this: eligible residents age 65 and older pay a $30 annual fee. In return, seniors' medication co-pay would range from $5 to $15 a month, depending on their income.

SeniorCare's great benefits and impact are why Democratic legislators including myself sent a letter to CMS requesting a 10-year renewal request. It's also why I was proud to join Gov. Tony Evers, the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), and lawmakers at a press conference announcing the news.

While Wisconsinites recognize the value of SeniorCare, the program has come under threats in the past. In 2015, former Gov. Scott Walker proposed a budget that effectively cut $100 million from SeniorCare and would have moved clients to a more costly, federal plan.

In the legislature, I am committed to listening to the people and working with my colleagues on ways to increase access to quality, affordable health care. One area for bipartisanship is Medicaid Expansion. So far, 36 states including Minnesota, Arkansas and Kentucky have already taken the federal funds to expand access to health care and reduce costs to state taxpayers. A recent Marquette Law poll showed that 70% of Wisconsin residents are in favor of Medicaid expansion.

Some of our nation's greatest achievements were accomplished through bipartisanship. President Eisenhower and Congressional Democrats and Republicans worked together to build our nation's interstate system. Wisconsin legislators worked together to create SeniorCare. I know we can come together to work on Medicaid Expansion, too.

State Sen. Patty Schachtner represents Wisconsin's tenth senate district. The district covers parts of Burnett, Dunn, Pierce, Polk, and St. Croix counties. Senator Schachtner may be reached at 608—266—7745 or Sen.Schachtner@legis.wisconsin.gov.