The Star-Ledger

Budget Cuts Hurt The Poorest

The Star-Ledger — Saturday, April 3, 2010

Letters to the Editor / The Star-Ledger

The proposed state budget includes a new $310 deductible for Pharmaceutical Assistance to the Aged and Disabled recipients and the more-than doubling of co-pays for brand name prescriptions. Of the 125,000 low-income seniors and disabled who will be hit with this new fee and co-pay increase, 36.5 percent use brand name prescriptions because there is no generic available and another 3.5 percent use the brand name because their doctor says it is "brand medically necessary."

The PAAD program provides prescription drug assistance to residents 65 years of age or older, or 18 years of age or older and receiving Social Security Disability assistance, with incomes of $24,432 or less if single or $29,956 or less if married. The program is funded by state and federal dollars. PAAD recipients are required to enroll in the Medicare Part D Prescription Drug plan. Beginning Jan. 1, 2011, PAAD beneficiaries will be required to cover the Medicare Part D annual deductible of $310. The average person on PAAD has four or five prescriptions. Assuming four brand-name prescriptions, that is an increase of $60 per month — a $1,000 or more hit next year. It is not a tax, but it might as well be.

The state expects to "save" $54 million. That is $54 million coming out of the pockets of some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in New Jersey. They cannot afford to pay the bill.

— Douglas Johnston, Princeton

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