By Tiffeny Owens
The Cullman Times
Income Limits for SenioRx
Individual yearly income $22,980
Individual monthly income $1,915
Couple yearly income $31,020
Couple monthly income $2,585
Source: Alabama Depart. of Senior Services
Despite changes NARCOG has made to its management of the SenioRx program, Cullman area seniors that depend on the free medicine will not be affected, local officials said.
Seniors that participate in the free prescription drug program will continue to receive the same services and assistance through the Cullman County Commission on Aging as they always have, said Director Randall Shedd. SenioRx is a prescription drug assistance program that helps thousands of Alabamians receive free prescription drugs from pharmaceutical manufacturers.
To qualify, residents must be at least 55 years of old with chronic medical conditions, no prescription drug insurance coverage and income at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. Social Security disabled individuals of any age in the 24- month Medicare waiting period are eligible for medication assistance.
Earlier this summer, the North-central Alabama Regional Council of Governments, or NARCOG, announced a single coordinator based out of its downtown Decatur headquarters would take over the SenioRx programs in Cullman, Morgan and Lawrence counties. The counties have been running their respective programs with a coordinator for each area.
The goal of consolidating the programs under one coordinator — who will make routine visits to each county — was to streamline operations and run more efficiently, said Stephanie Franklin, NARCOG interim aging director.
“Everyone will continue to receive the same service as they had before,” Franklin said. “The only changes will be on our end, not the clients.”
But Cullman officials weren’t so sure that would be the case and were concerned senior residents would have to make the 70-mile roundtrip drive to Decatur for their medicine. Baileyton Mayor Johnny Dyar was particularly upset about the changes and grilled Franklin about them at the NARCOG board meeting Aug. 28. Cullman County Commission Chairman Kenneth Walker and Associate Commissioner Stanley Yarbrough also discussed their concerns with Franklin.
“It was just a misunderstanding, and it’s not a problem anymore,” said Associate Commissioner Darrell Hicks.
Shedd said regardless of NARCOG’s changes, the SenioRx program, which was started in Cullman and became the model for the state, will remain the same in Cullman.
“We’re going to continue to have our staff here at the Commission on Aging to help our seniors fill out the paperwork and get their medicine,” Shedd said. “We were doing it before NARCOG, and we will be doing it afterwards.”
For more information about the SenioRx program, contact the Cullman County Commission on Aging at 256-734-1241 or visit its website at cullmancocoa.webs.com
The NARCOG Board conducted the following business at its meeting:
Went into a 45-minute executive session to discuss the “good name and character”of someone with the agency.
Approved June bills and financials.
Approved audit for fiscal 2012 that started Oct. 1, 2011 and ended Sept. 30, 2012.
Approved annual rural planning organization’s work program for fiscal 2014.
The NARCOG Board will meet 10 a.m. Sept. 25 at its headquarters at 216 Jackson St. S.E. in Decatur.
Tiffeny Owens can be reached email at email@example.com or by phone at 256-734-2131, ext. 135.