COLUMN: EPIC restored, combatting elder abuse, home safety

— Thankfully, in our last budget session, funding for co-payment assistance through EPIC was restored. I was pleased to support this restoration in the budget. EPIC is the Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage Program that is available to New York State residents aged 65 years or older whose incomes are under $35,000 for singles and $50,000 for couples. EPIC helps pay the Medicare Part D drug plan monthly premiums for members with income up to $23,000 single and $29,000 married.

Thousands of people throughout the district and the state voiced their outrage at the decision to cut EPIC funding and as a result, in the last budget session, funding was restored.

Beginning Jan. 1, 2013, EPIC will again provide assistance with Medicare Part D covered drugs after the Medicare deductible is met. EPIC will supplement drugs purchased in Part D initial coverage, coverage gap (donut hole) and catastrophic phases. EPIC will also cover many Medicare Part D excluded drugs. EPIC co-payments will be $3, $7, $15 or $20 based on the cost of the drug. To enroll or learn more, call 1-800-332-3742.

State takes aim at elder abuse

The state recently received a three-year, $1 million Elder Abuse Prevention Interventions Grant from the U.S. Administration for Community Living to combat financial exploitation and elder abuse in New York.

Elder abuse includes financial exploitation, physical abuse, sexual abuse, psychological abuse and neglect. Financial exploitation, the fastest growing form of elder abuse, accounts for more than $2.9 billion dollars a year nationally in losses to people age 60 and older. The award will support a pilot program that will focus on preventing and intervening in financial exploitation of frail adults aged 60 and older. This pilot program will test new technologies for offering this model in rural areas.

Experts have noticed there are similarities in cases of financial exploitation and plan to employ accountants to investigate and intervene to assist victims. They will work with Adult Protective Services as well as local law enforcement and other private agencies. More preventative education will also come with this grant. The hope is this model can be replicated and used to help protect more senior citizens throughout the state.

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