A healthcare program that has insulated Wisconsin from the Medicare Part D Prescription Drug program is set to expire at the end of the year.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has opted not to extend a new waiver for SeniorCare, the Wisconsin prescription drug program for low-income seniors. SeniorCare has no monthly premiums, lower copayments than the Medicare drug program and no gaps in coverage. In January, the state will convert to the Part D program, which did not exist when the waiver period started.

Lawmakers, including Gov. Jim Doyle (D) and Sen. Herbert H. Kohl (D) urged CMS to accept the state’s request for a new waiver, arguing that SeniorCare has saved the federal government a total of $669 million in Medicaid costs and would save an estimated additional $400 million over the next three years. Federal officials say proper analysis has not been done to back up those numbers.