Missouri senior citizens who benefit from the MORx program may be looking at paying double their prescription costs.
Missouri seniors using the Missouri Rx (MORx) plan may have received a letter in the mail informing them that their coverage under the plan will soon expire. Due to a law passed in 2014, the MORx will cease coverage for over 60,000 Missouri seniors on July 1, 2017, increasing the amount they will have to spend on prescription drugs.
Bruce Runion, of St. Robert, is one such individual who will find his medical costs increasing after the first of the month. Runion has COPD and hemophilia, as well as chronic pains he says doctors can’t perform surgery on. Until now, Runion has relied on the MORx plan to help offset the costs of the medicine he needs to function.
“I take a dozen different meds each day,” he said. “My out of pocket expense stands around $300.”
Without the MORx program, his cost of medication each month could double. And Runion’s wife also uses the program to help supply her own medications, further increasing the total cost the couple will be forced to add to their monthly budget.
“I don’t see how a lot of seniors are going to be able to cope with coming up with that kind of money,” said Runion. He explained he is putting off other necessities like a new air conditioner and fixing his roof, so he and his wife can make sure they have the medication they need.
“I’m strapped to the max as it is,” he said.
The MORx program was formed to work with Medicare’s Part D prescription drug program, and works by covering half of the costs incurred by prescriptions. Those who are on both Medicare and Medicaid are not affected by the upcoming change, but according to Missouri CLAIM, a state health insurance assistance program, over 60,000 Missourians will no longer be able to use the MORx program.
“We’re going to see a whole lot of seniors skip their medicine,” Runion said.
Runion has been enrolled in the MORx program since 2013, and said he received no notification the following year when the new law was passed, creating a sunset on the program. The first Runion knew of the upcoming changes was when he received a letter in the mail two weeks ago.
“I voted for all these people that went to Jeff City, I didn’t think they were going to cut our throats,” he said. “You can sit there and say you’re pro life, but at the same time you can’t tell me you’re pro life and take away life saving drugs from 60,000 people.”
The letter, which Runion shared, lists several resources that can provide help with covering prescription drug costs. However Runion said these programs aren’t available to someone in his situation.
“Most of these things you can’t get if you’re on social security,” he said, adding that he and his wife “don’t make a lot,” but make enough so they are not eligible for medicaid. Both of them have medical expenses beyond their prescriptions, and have to make every dollar count when it comes to their health.
“Two-hundred dollars goes a long way when you’re retired,” Runion said. “Yes there is a cost to the state, but it’s well worth the money they spend to keep seniors alive and functioning.” Runion also said that taking money away from the MORx program isn’t going to help the state in the long run.
“That’s one way to get money into the budget,” he said. “But in the long run these people are going to get so sick the state is going to have to take care of them anyway.”
Missouri State Senator Dan Brown, said that when the 2014 law was originally being considered, there was not a lot of feedback from constituents saying it would affect them negatively. When the law was passed, the vision was that the money would be better able to help Missourians in another way.
With the large number of Missouri seniors shown now to be negatively affected by the change to the MORx program, Senator Brown said they will be closely examining the situation and try to find the best way to move forward.
Until then, Runion, his wife and thousands of other seniors are looking for ways to make sure they can get the medicine they need.
“Right now I’m okay, a month or two down the road, I might not be okay,” said Runion.