Archive for Wednesday, February 9, 2005

Affordable health care, prescription drug costs rank high with Sebelius

February 9, 2005

School funding, although a top priority for Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, isn't the only issue on the governor's plate.

In an interview last week in Lansing, the governor reviewed some of her recent initiatives, talked about some new ideas she's forwarded to the Legislature for consideration and discussed some old topics she continues to hope to see action on from lawmakers.

Affordable health care

The governor said health-care costs and affordability was an issue "I hear about all over the state."

In November, she unveiled a $50 million initiative aimed at extending health care benefits to more than 70,000 uninsured Kansans.

"Small-business owners are worried that they're not going to have affordable coverage. Seniors are scared to death that they can't afford their medicines," she said Friday. "We have a pretty aggressive multipart plan at the state level that I'm hoping the Legislature embraces and that we can both start to work on both the cost side and the affordability side for Kansans."

Prescription drug costs

Late last year, Kansas became the fourth state to join the program developed by Illinois and launched in October. The I-SaveRX program provides Kansans access to lower-priced prescription drugs through a network of inspected and approved pharmacies and wholesalers in Canada, the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Kansas joining the program is a source of pride for Sebelius, who said a couple thousand Kansans already have signed up for the program. She told the story of a recent visitor to her office: a 75-year-old who takes three maintenance drugs

"He had priced the drugs at Wal-Mart, at Walgreen's and Dillons, and then did the pricing on I-SaveRX on the Internet," Sebelius recalled. "The lowest price he could get out of the local stores was $1,300 a month for the three drugs. He could get the three of them for $700 on the 'Net, so he quickly took advantage of that. It's a very significant savings for a lot of people."

She said, though, the real answer to affordable prescription drugs rested in Washington.

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