ST. LOUIS (AP) - Gov. Jay Nixon is urging Missouri's General Assembly to reauthorize Missouri Rx, a program providing prescription drug assistance to needy senior citizens and those with disabilities.
Nixon was in St. Louis on Tuesday, where he called on lawmakers to approve the program for another five years. The program expires on Aug. 28 unless lawmakers reauthorize it.
"Seniors and individuals with disabilities shouldn't be forced to choose between purchasing essential medications and putting food on the table," Nixon said during an appearance at a health clinic in St. Louis. He was scheduled to also make the announcement in stops in Kansas City and Springfield.
Missouri Rx began in 2006 and pays 50 percent of out-of-pocket costs for medications that are covered by a Medicare Part D plans, including the cost of the deductible and co-payment. It continues to provide benefits for those in the Medicare Part D coverage gap known as the "doughnut hole."
The program is for individual seniors with annual income up to $21,660, or married couples earning up to $29,140. Elderly and disabled residents in MO HealthNet are automatically enrolled.
Nearly 207,000 Missourians are currently enrolled in Missouri Rx. It has no enrollment fee.
Nixon said state Rep. Tishaura Jones, D-St. Louis, and state Sen. Jolie Justus, D-Kansas City, will sponsor legislation reauthorizing Missouri Rx through 2016.
"Caring for our seniors and those with disabilities is one of our most important responsibilities," Jones said.
A spokesman for the governor said Missouri Rx costs about $20 million annually. The program has been funded with money from a settlement with tobacco makers.