There are two important notices regarding the NYS Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage Program (EPIC) that we wanted to share with you.
1. StateWide advocacy achieves results. Until further notice, continue to use the 2019 EPIC Application .
NY StateWide Senior Action Council (StateWide) has always kept a careful watch over the EPIC program, since we were involved in creating the original legislation that birthed the program. We reviewed the planned new application for the EPIC program that was to be launched in 2020. We found that the new application format and information requested made the application more difficult to complete. We were concerned that eligible New Yorkers would delay completing the application and have a resulting delay in receiving EPIC benefits that make prescriptions affordable. We raised this issue with state legislators during our ongoing advocacy to improve EPIC. StateWide urged the Chairs of the Aging and Health Committees to contact the NYS Department of Health to request a delay in implementation of the new application, particularly in light of the struggles older New Yorkers are facing in the midst of the pandemic.
We thank Senators May and Rivera and Assemblymembers Bronson and Gottfried, who followed through on StateWide’s request and wrote to the Health Commissioner on April 16. As a result, the Department of Health has responded in an April 29th letter signed by Donna Frescatore, of the NYS Dept of Health Office of Health Insurance Programs:
“We understand your concerns regarding COVID-19 and ensuring that seniors get access to needed medications. As such, we will continue to accept the prior version of the EPIC application until after the emergency period and will also work closely with seniors to obtain the information needed so the EPIC program staff can facilitate their applications for the Extra Help program.”
StateWide will continue to work with the Department and with the Legislature on this matter. We have also drafted legislation to improve the EPIC program and will continue our advocacy efforts.
2. EPIC fee plan members will not face any penalty for missing their 2nd quarter payments.
A new policy was implemented this year that cancelled the EPIC membership for fee plan members that were late or missed a payment, requiring the member to re-submit an application to re-enroll in EPIC. Now, the EPIC program has suspended that policy for the moment. The second quarter payment for EPIC fee plan members was due by April 20, 2020. For those members that missed paying that bill, EPIC benefits will continue. If a member owes a second quarter payment, and they have not mailed in their payment by April 20th, they will NOT be canceled for nonpayment. Their membership will continue. The member can submit their second quarter payment up until June if they wish to make a late payment. Otherwise, they will see a bill for two quarters in the third quarter invoice.
As always, please call NY StateWide Senior Action Council at 800-333-4374 if you have any questions or need assistance with an EPIC application or coverage matter.