Quality of life for older Iowans

Friday, December 28, 2001

Ensuring a decent quality of life for every Iowan is at the heart of all the priorities for this state.

To that end, we have been working hard to improve the lives of older Iowans. Helping Iowa's

seniors maintain good health is critical to our efforts.

Across the state, there are some 300,000 seniors and other Medicare-eligible people on fixed incomes who pay an average of $1,250 a year for prescription drugs. Because of the cost, many have to choose between nutritious food and medically necessary prescription drugs.

Currently, because of the high cost of prescription drugs, 10 percent of seniors don't fill their prescriptions, 19 percent take their medicine less often than prescribed, and another 10 percent split pills to make them last longer.

No Iowan should have to choose between buying necessary drugs and vital

necessities like housing and food.

To help solve this dilemma, Governor Vilsack and I worked with Senator Tom Harkin to launch the "Iowa Priority Prescription Savings Program." This drug co-op will help make prescription drugs more affordable and provide greater

health security for seniors.

Eligible seniors can join the prescription-drug program for a $20 fee and receive significant discounts. (The amount of the discount depends on the

prescription drug.)

Another very significant life for older Iowans is the Senior Living Trust. This is a fund

that is used to improve assisted living, develop home-delivered meal programs, adult day centers, and respite care sites.

We have awarded nearly $13 million in Senior Living grants across the state.

The grants help ensure that Iowa's seniors receive the care they need. The grants also

allow them to remain

independent longer.

The goal of the program is to create a comprehensive

long-term care system that is consumer-directed, provides a balance between institutional and non-institutional services, and contributes to the quality of the lives of the elderly, as well as the lives of adults with disabilities.

Iowa's seniors deserve to live in dignity and independence. Programs like the Priority Prescription Savings program, and the Senior Living Trust help make that possible.

To learn more about the Iowa Priority Prescription Savings program, log on to the web site www.iowapriority.org