‘From the Capitol’ ConnPACE

June 30, 2011

Beginning July 1st, many of the state-run programs and resources Connecticut’s families and seniors rely on will undergo changes. Included in those changes is ConnPACE. With the implementation of the Govenor’s state budget agreement, a portion of ConnPACE will no longer exist, affecting many of our state’s recipients.

ConnPACE is a service that was created to assist eligible senior citizens and people with disabilities afford the cost of most prescription medicines including insulin and insulin syringes. Under the existing program, Connecticut residents age 65 or older, or those with a disability age 18 or older may qualify for ConnPACE. Benefits are available to those who meet the program’s residency, income and age or disability criteria, and individuals who are eligible for Medicare Part D must also enroll in a Prescription Drug Plan in order to be eligible for ConnPACE.

Under the Governor’s state budget, set to begin July 1st, the state will be closing the ConnPACE prescription drug program for those who are enrolled in Medicare, which is federally funded. Most of the current enrollees – over 25,000 – will not be impacted, but nearly 5,500 will be required to take action to ensure no loss of coverage. These changes require those clients who are Medicare eligible or are eligible to participate in a Medicare Savings Program (MSP) to enroll in the federal program, and those not eligible for federal assistance will maintain ConnPACE coverage.

In early June ConnPACE recipients received a letter from the Department of Social Services outlining what actions are necessary, if any. Prior to July 1st, program beneficiaries enrolled in Medicare and its Part D, but not yet enrolled in the Medicare Part D Low-Income Subsidy/Extra Help must do so. The easiest way to enroll in Low-Income Subsidy/Extra Help is to enroll in the state’s MSP. Folks should be aware that lack of enrollment places all the financial responsibility of prescription drugs back on the resident, especially those in the Medicare Part D ‘donut hole.’

To make the process easier for recipients, the eligibility requirements for ConnPACE and the MSP are the same and the sign up comes at no cost. Once properly enrolled, individuals will benefit from lower costs through the federal Medicare Part D program’s Low-Income Subsidy/Extra Help. Medicare Part D co-pays will equate to $6.30 or less and Medicare will cover the entire monthly premium for certain enrollees, or will pay a portion of some monthly Part D premiums. Joining the MSP also provides individuals with additional benefits such as the payment of Medicare Part B (covering doctors visits and outpatient care) premiums.

For those Medicare beneficiaries who have enrolled or re-enrolled in ConnPACE, the Department of Social Services will be issuing enrollment fee refunds on a pro-rated basis if their annual enrollment or re-enrollment period began April 1, 2011, or later. The Department of Social Services will be pro-rating the refunds of the annual $45 enrollment fee at $3.75 per month. More than 8,400 recipients will receive refunds, totaling over $320,000 in reimbursements. Conversely, a savings totaling $4.4 million in fiscal year 2012 and $4.1 million in fiscal year 2013 will be achieved with the state’s elimination of ConnPACE coverage for Medicare eligible clients.

For more information about ConnPACE and new changes, call the ConnPACE toll-free line at 800.423.5026 or call Infoline at 2-1-1.