New York State Senator Reverend Ruben Diaz Prescription Medication Bill Moves to Aging Committee for Vote

Ruben Diaz

March 26, 2009

Senator Reverend Ruben Diaz Chairs Aging Committee Hearing on S1645

New York State Senator Reverend Ruben Diaz (D-Bronx) is looking forward to Monday’s Committee on Aging vote to bring Senate Bill 1645 one step closer to passage. Senator Diaz’s bill S1645 will create the New York State Prescription Medication Cost Containment Program and allow seniors who qualify for the Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage Program (EPIC) to sign a contract voluntarily with a Canadian mail order company, selected through a competitive bidding process, in order to purchase their prescription drugs.

According to Senator Diaz, "Yesterday’s hearings will go down in Senate history as a great leap forward for New York’s senior citizens. I deeply appreciate the professional input by so many speakers on this matter. Our senior citizens should no longer have to decide whether to buy groceries or fill their prescriptions."

Yesterday’s Senate Standing Committee on Aging hearing on S1645 included a positive exchange of testimony by the following speakers : Michael Burgess, Director, New York State Office for the Aging; Christopher Gardner, County Attorney, Schenectady County; G. Anthony Howard, President and CEO, CanaRx Services, Inc.; John Panichi, CEO and Barry McNamara, President, Benetech; Jason Angell, Working Families Party; Christopher Ward, Deputy VP for International Alliance Development; Leslie Wood, Senior Policy Analyst, PhRMA; David McNally, Manager, Government Affairs, and Bill Ferris, State Legislative Representative, AARP.

Additional written testimony entered into the official hearing record was received from Dina Wizmur, Medicare Rights Center; Francine Turner, CSEA; Peter Pitts, President, Center for Medicine in the Public Interest, New York State Civil Service Commission; and Anne Fellows, National Association of Chain Drug Stores.

Senate Bill 1645 is modeled after a successful program that was implemented by Schenectady County in 2005. Since the inception of this program, according to County Attorney Christopher Gardner, "The County's cost-savings have been tremendous. Discounts of 30%, 40%, 50% and 60% and more have been achieved on many brand-name drugs resulting in several million dollars in savings."

The bill will authorize the Executive Director of EPIC to utilize Canada’s research-based pharmaceutical companies in order to secure the best quality FDA-approved prescriptions at the lowest possible costs. This should result in significant savings to New York State.

For further information please contact Christopher Lynn, Counsel to the Aging Committee at 718/991-3161.