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Published: Thursday, 10/3/2002

Taft pushes drug plan to area senior citizens

BY FRITZ WENZEL
BLADE POLITICAL WRITER
Bill Teaderman shows off a wooden horse he made in the Sylvania Senior Center's wood shop to Bob Taft during the governor's visit to the center yesterday. Bill Teaderman shows off a wooden horse he made in the Sylvania Senior Center's wood shop to Bob Taft during the governor's visit to the center yesterday.
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Ohio Gov. Bob Taft brought his re-election campaign to senior centers in Bowling Green and Sylvania yesterday, touting a new state plan to lower prescription drug prices for residents.

He also toured a farm in Hancock County to survey the damage done by this summer's drought, promising to press the federal government for disaster aid.

Meeting with 50 seniors at their center on Main Street in Bowling Green, the governor said “everybody is burdened with the very high cost of prescription drugs. Under the state Medicaid program, the cost went up 17 percent in the last year alone.

“We tried to help all of our seniors to the extent that we can. I personally believe that the federal government should cover prescription drugs as a part of Medicare.

“They keep talking about that in Washington, but they have not done anything yet. So we went to the legislature, and we got a bill passed that allows our Department of Aging to select a negotiator to negotiate the best discounts we can from all the large pharmaceutical companies for senior citizens and make those discounts available for seniors citizens through the Golden Buckeye card program,” Mr. Taft said.

The program will begin in January. The governor said it should save seniors between 5 percent and 15 percent.

Austin Jenkins, spokesman for Democratic gubernatorial challenger Tim Hagan, said the Taft drug program is a “too little, too late election-year plan.”

“If you would like 5 to 10 percent discounts on prescription drugs, then vote for Bob Taft on Nov. 5. If you would like savings of 50 to 60 percent, then Tim Hagan is your candidate for governor. That is the proposal he supports.”

The difference in the plans lies in its administration. The Taft drug plan calls for the state to negotiate lower prices for seniors but leaves it to the individual consumer to buy his or her prescriptions with his or her discount card. The Hagan plan calls for the state to actually purchase the drugs to obtain a “bulk discount.”

Those drugs then would be distributed to customers who show a discount card that would be created through the program.

The Taft plan only applies to those over the age of 60 who qualify for a Golden Buckeye card. The Hagan plan would be open to all Ohioans.

After his tour of the damaged corn and soybean crops in Van Buren, Mr. Taft said he is continuing to lobby the federal government to recognize all 88 counties as disaster areas so farmers can become eligible for federal assistance, including low-cost loans.

Mr. Hagan says Mr. Taft has mismanaged the drought problem and that rural voters should support his campaign.


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