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Bill To Maintain Federal Prescription Benefits in Pioneer Homes Passes Senate

Senator Wielechowski's bill protects Veterans and other Pioneer Homes residents for years to come



(JUNEAU) -  The state Senate today passed legislation introduced by Senator Bill Wielechowski, D-Anchorage, ensuring that residents of the Alaska Pioneer Homes who are eligible for free and low-cost medications will continue to receive them for years to come.

In April of 2009, Veterans living in the Pioneer Homes who were unable to administer their own medications stopped receiving the free or low cost medications, which they are entitled through the Veterans Administration. These Veterans were caught in the middle of a bureaucratic mix-up between state and federal policies and forced to purchase the same medications from the Pioneer Homes pharmacy.

The problem arose because of packaging issues between the Pioneer Homes and the Veterans Administration.

The Pioneer Homes worked for months with the Department of Health and Social Services, the Veterans Administration, Veterans advocates and members of the Legislature to seek a solution to the problem. By November, 2009 the Pioneer Homes came to a solution. Senate Bill 215 will put that solution into statute.

"This was a complicated problem which required the coordination of many parties and took over 6 months to come to a solution," said Senator Wielechowski. "Meanwhile, residents who earned their free prescription benefits had to pay the Pioneer Homes for these same medications until this bureaucratic mess was resolved. I introduced this bill to ensure that no one ever has to go through this again."

SB 215 next moves to the House, where Representatives Les Gara, D-Anchorage, and Nancy Dahlstrom, R-Eagle River, have companion legislation, HB 284.

(For more information, contact Senator Wielechowski or Shelly Morgan at 907-465-3723.)

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