TRENTON- On Wednesday, Gov. Chris Christie announced plans to restore senior prescription drug assistance benefits to their pre-fiscal year 2011 budget levels.
The move came as Democratic lawmakers continued to debate a plan that would re-instate an income tax surcharge on New Jersey’s wealthiest residents to fund property tax rebates and prescription drug assistance for senior citizens.
The governor’s plan to restore the prescription assistance programs will be funded without tax increases. Due to increases in rebate collections from drug manufacturers, higher utilization of generic drugs, expanded eligibility for enrollment in Medicare Part D’s Low Income Subsidy program and manufacturer discounts in Medicare part D “donut hole”, funding will be available in the fiscal year 2011 budget to keep deductibles and copayments for Senior Gold and the Pharmaceutical Assistance to the Aged and Disabled (PAAD) at preexisting levels, as well as lower PAAD copayments for generic medicines to $5.
“While many New Jerseyans have had to share in the sacrifice of this year’s trying economic and fiscal conditions, it is important we still provide health care for those most vulnerable in our society. Thanks to increased use of generics, greater manufacturer rebates and discounts and expanded eligibility for Medicare part D subsidies, we are now able to restore funding for next year’s budget that maintains zero deductibles and low copayments for PAAD and Senior Gold, without requiring additional cuts to programs and services,” said Christie.
PAAD and Senior Gold provide much needed prescription drug assistance to nearly 164,000 low-income seniors and those New Jerseyans living with disabilities. Of that number, approximately 140,000 are enrolled in PAAD and another 23,000 in the Senior Gold program. PAAD and Senior Gold recipients are required to enroll in Medicare Part D.
The initial fiscal year 2011 budget proposal called on PAAD and Senior Gold beneficiaries to cover the annual deductible of $310 required by Medicare Part D. Additionally, the proposed budget anticipated that the co-payment under PAAD for brand name drugs would increase from $7 to $15.
Christie announced that his fiscal year 2011 budget will fund the $310 Medicare Part D deductible for those enrolled in PAAD and the Senior Gold program, while restoring funding to keep the co-payment for brand name drugs at seven dollars and reducing the co-payment for generics to five dollars.
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