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PSC-CUNY Welfare Fund Responds to Daily News Drug Coverage Story

What follows is the response of PSC-CUNY Welfare Fund Executive Director Donna Costa to a story in the New York Daily News on the cost of HIV medications under the Welfare Fund Prescription Drug Program.

The Daily News published a story addressing the financial cost of HIV prescription drugs under the Welfare Fund, and noted the financial consequences of a "quirk" in the PSC-CUNY Welfare Fund's High-Cost Rx reimbursement plan. As the story accurately reported, the Welfare Fund will reimburse Welfare Fund members for up to $25,000 per person, per year for out-of-pocket prescription drug costs (after a $2,500 deductible). The story also mentions that the "close to $50,000" per year cost for such drugs may be reduced by "drug coupons." Prescription drug coupons are a marketing method drug companies use to discount the high copay amounts to the patient.

The Welfare Fund will reimburse members for expenses according the High Cost Rx Program design after all discounts and coupons have been accounted for. We have initially set the reimbursement period at every three months, but as the article accurately reports, "Officials [of the Fund] noted they’re working to increase the frequency of reimbursements." Also, the article correctly reported my quote that the Fund is, "constantly working to find solutions to help our members.” It should be noted that the PSC-CUNY Welfare Fund was among the first to take advantage of Obamacare's catastrophic drug coverage for retirees over 65. Unlike some other union Welfare Fund plans, CUNY retiree Fund members are covered for high-cost drug expenses and there are no maximum caps. 

While the PSC-CUNY Welfare Fund is a joint labor-management welfare fund and doesn't take policy positions, the Professional Staff Congress - the faculty and staff union at CUNY - is on record advocating for a single payer national health program as the best way to deal with the high cost of prescription drugs for all. Meanwhile, the PSC-CUNY Welfare Fund is a small actor in the high-cost prescription drug marketplace, but we work hard to devise plans to meet the needs of our membership.

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