May 5, 2000 - Governor O'Bannon appoints Advisory Committee
INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA 46204-2797
Governor Frank O’Bannon today took another step forward on his promise to help elderly Hoosiers pay for prescription drugs they need but cannot afford.
The governor first persuaded the General Assembly to set aside $20 million in the coming fiscal year for prescription drugs for the low-income elderly. Now he has appointed a panel of experts to figure out how to do the most good with that money.
They’re the decision-making members of the Prescription Drug Advisory Committee, which legislators called for in the new law. The committee will recommend eligibility and benefit guidelines and an administrative structure by September 1.
"I have asked the committee members to work as quickly as they can to set up a program that helps as many people as possible and that is easy to access," O’Bannon said. "It looks as if partisan politics will keep Congress from establishing a national prescription drug program, but I’m confident we’ll get the job done in Indiana this year."
The governor is announcing the progress at the Indianapolis Senior Citizens’ Center (10 a.m.); Battell Community Center, Mishawaka (12:15 p.m.); and the Juliet A. Peddle Park community room, Terre Haute (3:15 p.m.). He visited those same locations during this year’s legislative session to propose his prescription drug plan and build public support for it.
"Ninety days ago I came here to tell you that I would fight for this legislation. With your support, we won that fight in the General Assembly. I’m here today to tell you we now have taken another step toward getting low-income seniors the help they need," O’Bannon said.
"Thousands of older Hoosiers desperately need help to pay for medicine their doctors say they need. Some of them — perhaps some of you — have to make the terrible choice between paying their utility bills, buying groceries or buying their medicine. That’s a choice no one should have to face," the governor declared.
"The prescription drug program we hope to set up will be a lot like the state’s incredibly successful program that provides health insurance to children of low-income families," said Lieutenant Governor Joe Kernan, joining O’Bannon in Mishawaka.
"We started the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, by reaching out to cover those most in need, and that’s what we’ll do now for our senior citizens," Kernan said. "The CHIP program has been so successful, in fact, that we have expanded it twice."
Indiana Medicaid records show most elderly Hoosiers spend more than $1,000 a year on prescription medicine. O’Bannon said he hopes to lift half that burden off seniors whose need is greatest.
How many needy seniors the state can help depends on where the new committee draws the line for eligibility and benefits. For example, the program could serve 55,000 elderly Hoosiers who have household incomes at or below 135 percent of the federal poverty level. That means annual earnings up to $11,125 for a single person or $14,931 for a couple.
Only 16 states currently provide prescription drug benefits beyond Medicaid. Members of Indiana’s new prescription drug committee are:
Kathleen Gifford, chair, state Medicaid director; Dr. Steven Counsell, geriatric specialist; Emily Hancock, licensed pharmacist; Vicky Perry, health plan administrator; Donna Prendergast, Medicare expert; Michael Przybylski, health economist; and Randy Loser, representing the pharmaceutical industry, all of Indianapolis.
Also, David Miller of Orleans (Orange County), Area Agency on Aging director; Bill Kelleher of Crawfordsville, American Association of Retired Persons state president; and Finis Springer, Gary neighborhood organizer, and Jewell Spears, Richmond registered nurse, both representing the public.
In addition, legislative leaders have appointed state Senators Marvin Riegsecker and Vi Simpson and state Representatives Vaneta Becker and Charlie Brown as non-voting members.
"Aiding the underserved elderly is both a personal and professional mission for me, so I’m thrilled at the opportunity to help develop this program," said Hancock, who heads St. Vincent Hospital’s Institute on Aging. "I know firsthand that there’s a great need for this program. I see it every day."
Besides that $20 million for prescription drugs for the low-income elderly, the governor convinced the General Assembly to dedicate another $90 million from the state’s tobacco settlement funds — as follows — for the fiscal year that begins July 1:
- $28 million for the Children’s Health Insurance Program;
- $35 million for tobacco education, prevention and control; and
- $27 million for health care including treatment of smoking-related illnesses among seniors, minorities and youth and for community health centers in rural and other areas that are medically underserved.
To guide much of that spending, Senate Enrolled Act 108 also establishes the Indiana Tobacco Use Prevention and Cessation Trust Fund Executive Board and an advisory committee to that board.
Today O’Bannon appointed the following members to the executive board:
Bain Farris, chair, Indianapolis health care consultant; Dr. Steve Simpson, Gary pediatrician; Dr. Alan Snell, South Bend physician; Pamela Peterson-Hines of Fort Wayne, Minority Health Coalition; Karla Sneegas, Indianapolis consultant and trainer on tobacco prevention and cessation; Mohammad Torabi, Ph.D., of Bloomington, Institute for Drug Abuse Prevention; Patricia Hart of Muncie, Delaware County Coordinating Council to Prevent Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse; Peggy Voelz of Columbus, Healthy Communities of Bartholomew County; Dr. Michael Blood, Crawfordsville physician; Alice Weathers, Community Action Program of Evansville.
Also, Robbie Barkley of Indianapolis, American Heart Association; Ronnie Greenberg of Fort Wayne, American Lung Association; Dr. Richard Huber of Greenwood, American Cancer Society; Jim Jones of Indianapolis, Indiana Council of Community Mental Health Centers; Dr. Stephen Jay of Indianapolis, Indiana State Medical Association; J. Michael Meyer of Borden (Clark County), public health administrator; and Robert Keen, Ph.D., of Greenfield, Indiana Hospital and Health Association.
The governor also named the following members to the Indiana Tobacco Use Prevention and Cessation Advisory Board:
Diane Clements, Evansville Black Coalition Inc.; Bob Arnold, Wolcottville (LaGrange County), Indiana Park and Recreation Association; Heather McCarthy, Griffith, Lake County Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition; Steve Guthrie, Anderson police officer; Nadine McDowell of Gary, bank officer, attorney and psychologist; Dr. Arden Christen of Indianapolis, IU School of Dentistry; Kay Wheeler, Fort Wayne school nurse.
Also, Olga Villa Parra, Indianapolis community service consultant; Dee Swanson, Bloomington nurse practitioner; Dr. Bennett Desedier, Indianapolis physician and president of the Aesculapian Society; Cecilia Bordador of Muncie, Smokefree Indiana; Kate Taylor, Fort Wayne student; Steve Montgomery of Trafalgar, Partnership for a Healthier Johnson County.
The executive committee will hire an executive director who will then chair the advisory board.
Reporters’ contact: Phil Bremen or Cheryl Reed, 317-232-4578