Magazine article Drug Topics

N.J. Cuts Rx Aid for Low-Income Senior Citizens

Magazine article Drug Topics

N.J. Cuts Rx Aid for Low-Income Senior Citizens

Article excerpt

Out on the New Jersey state budget dance floor, community pharmacists await a long night of getting jerked around to the beat of Gov. Christine Whitman's costcutting thump music. The main song for pharmacists is called PAAD (Pharmaceutical Assistance for the Aged and Disabled). The lyrics are being rewritten, and community R.Ph.s say they don't sound good.

According to Allen Nichol, CEO, New Jersey Pharmacists Association, Whitman's lyrics read like this: The governor has proposed a state budget that would, in effect, lower the financial ceiling for senior citizens to be able to qualify for drug coverage under the state's PAAD program.

As the program is currently structured, it discounts the costs of prescription drugs for about 230,000 low-income elderly people. Enrollees are responsible for a co-pay of $5 per prescription.

Under Whitman's proposal, about 30,000 recipients of PAAD would get cut out of the program because their total assets, exclusive of their car and home, are worth more than $50,00(even if they do meet other low-income requirements, Nichol confirmed. Currently, individuals who participate must have an income that does not exceed $17,056; couples may earn as much as $20,913.

Steve Brandt, executive director of Garden State Pharmacy Owners, which represents the state's independent pharmacists, told Drug Topics that the officially proposed PAAD "assets test" would itself have little impact on independents. Although some senior citizens disenrolled from PAAD might try to save money by cutting back on the number of medications they use, which would hurt pharmacy sales, the rest would become cash-paying customers. …

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