MISSOURI -- Gov. Bob Holden announced last week the launch of the Missouri SenioRx Program which the governor says will result in Missouri senior citizens receiving substantial savings on their prescription medications."Of the approximate 40,581 applications that have been received for the program, over 26,000 applications have been approved and are receiving notice of their status. I'm pleased that we will be able to help many seniors in need," Holden said. "No longer will Missouri senior citizens have to choose between day -- to -- day expenses and their much needed medications."Starting July 2, qualified seniors who paid their enrollment fee may begin to save money on prescription medications. The Missouri SenioRx Program will pay 60 percent of their prescription drug cost once their annual deductible is met. The maximum annual benefit for each participant is $5,000. Additionally, enrolled seniors will receive discounted prices on prescription medications when they use their Missouri SenioRx benefit cards.The open enrollment period closed May 30. All applications postmarked after this date are being returned to applicants. However, there is one exception. Seniors who turn 65 after May 30 may still apply for the program this year, but they must apply within 30 days of their birthday. The next open enrollment period begins January 2003. "We hope that seniors who turn 65 during the plan year realize they can apply for the program within 30 days of their birthday and begin receiving benefits," said Holden.Applicants who met the program's eligibility guidelines received enrollment letters requesting an enrollment fee of $25 or $35 per individual, depending on income. Upon receipt of the enrollment fee, members received their Missouri SenioRx benefit card and began using the card July 2 to receive discounted drug prices at local pharmacies.The Missouri SenioRx Program replaces the state's senior prescription tax credit which will be phased out following tax year 2001. The SenioRx Program is designed to provide a more comprehensive benefit to seniors most impacted by recent increases in prescription drug costs."According to information received from applicants about their 2001 prescription drug costs, preliminary statistics project savings of approximately $700 annually for each Missouri SenioRx Program member," said Holden.Program information may be obtained by calling the program's hotline at 1-866-556-9316 or visiting the SenioRx web site, www.missouriseniorx.com.