Today U.S. Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI) questioned the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, about the administration's plans to grant SeniorCare a waiver through 2012. SeniorCare is Wisconsin's senior drug coverage program, and the only program of its kind left in the United States that offers state residents an alternative to Medicare Part D.
"As you know, the waiver for Wisconsin's SeniorCare program is scheduled to end on December 31 of this year. Currently, SeniorCare provides seniors in my state with high quality, cost effective prescription drug coverage. And, according to the Congressional Budget Office, it does so while achieving ongoing savings for the federal government.
"I understand that Governor Jim Doyle has applied for a waiver to extend SeniorCare through 2012, which would allow this successful program to continue and avoid breaks in coverage for the thousands of Wisconsin senior citizens who count on it. Can you tell me the status of the waiver application?" Kohl asked.
Secretary Sebelius said that waiver for the "wildly popular" and "enormously successful" SeniorCare program is in the final stages of review, and that she is "hopeful that we will be able to give you news in the very near future."
Sebelius went on to praise SeniorCare further, saying, "Before I came to this position, as a governor, and as someone who shared ideas with other governors, not only did I have our state looking at how successful Wisconsin had been and what kinds of things we could do to mirror itbut the health reform team has [looked at it], the whole program, and we want to look at it as a possibility to include as one of the options. So it definitely has caught the attention of lots of folks outside of Wisconsin."
Senator Kohl questioned Sebelius at a hearing held by the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies, of which Kohl is a member. Senator Kohl is also Chairman of the Senate Special Committee on Aging. It was through these dual roles that Kohl was instrumental in securing the most recent extension of SeniorCare in May 2007.