November 14, 2003

Senator John A. Kissel (R-Enfield) announced today that he plans to introduce legislation during the 2004 legislative session to repeal a controversial “reach back” provision in the state’s prescription drug benefit program, ConnPACE. The provision, which was passed in the 2003 budget agreement, allows the state to make claims on the estates of deceased ConnPACE recipients in order to recoup the money paid to help with prescription drug costs. The budget agreement also included an asset test, designed to restrict the participation of wealthy seniors in the program, meaning the bulk of those affected by the “reach back” would be middle income seniors.

“This ‘reach back’ unfairly falls on the shoulders of the middle class elderly, and puts seniors in a position where they have to give up the hope of passing their estates onto their children in order to accept an important benefit,” said Senator Kissel. “I believe our state’s policy should be to assist the elderly in purchasing prescription drugs, not providing them with what amounts to a loan that consumes their assets after death.”

Senator Kissel voted against the budget implementer bill that included the “reach back” provision, and plans to use his position as ranking member of the General Assembly’s Select Committee on Aging to craft legislation that will undo the harmful effects of this recent change. Senator Kissel has served on the Select Committee on Aging since the committee was first created in 1997, and has helped pass legislation over the past several years to expanded income eligibility and increase participation in the ConnPACE program.

“ConnPACE is probably the single most important program for middle class seniors in Connecticut, and I believe the General Assembly needs to set a policy that establishes this prescription drug assistance as a priority in our state. Even though times are tough for our economy, prescription drug coverage for the elderly should not be treated as an option to tinker with in order to balance the budget,” added Senator Kissel.