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PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:
September 08, 2005

Fred M. Jacobs, M.D., J.D.
Commissioner

For Further Information Contact:
Gretchen Michael or Marilyn Riley
(609) 984-7160


 
DHSS Helps PAAD and Senior Gold Beneficiaries Understand the New Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage


 

TRENTON – Health and Senior Services Commissioner Fred M. Jacobs, M.D., J.D., today launched a statewide education campaign to help people on PAAD and Senior Gold, their families, and caregivers understand how the new federal Medicare prescription drug coverage will affect them.

"PAAD beneficiaries will not lose benefits or see their co-pays increase when the new Medicare program begins in January," Commissioner Jacobs said.  "However, to keep your PAAD benefits and your low co-pay, you have to sign up for the Medicare program.  We'll make that very easy by doing most of the work for you."

Pharmaceutical Assistance to the Aged and Disabled and Senior Gold are two New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services programs that help nearly 220,000 seniors and disabled persons obtain prescription drugs.  PAAD beneficiaries are low-income and pay $5 for each prescription.  Senior Gold provides low-cost prescription coverage to seniors with moderate incomes.         

At a news conference today at the Lawrence Township Senior Center in Lawrenceville, Dr. Jacobs  discussed the new education effort, which includes television and print advertisements, a 24-hour PAAD and Senior Gold Hotline (1-800-792-9745) and helpful information – in both English and Spanish -- on the department’s web site (www.njpaad.gov and www.njsrgold.gov).  He was joined by Kathleen Mason, the department’s Acting Deputy Commissioner of Senior Services.

The education initiative, which began today and will continue for a year, is designed to reassure PAAD and Senior Gold beneficiaries about their benefits.  It explains the need for PAAD participants who are also on Medicare to apply for the federal prescription program, and directs people with questions to the hotline and web site for further information.   For those on Senior Gold who are also on Medicare, enrolling in the new federal benefit is optional.

“If you’re on PAAD or Senior Gold, or care for someone who is, please watch the mail for more instructions from our department.  We’ll be sending a letter in October and ask that you promptly return the information we need,” Ms. Mason said.

The new federal Medicare prescription coverage begins January 1, 2006. Benefits will be offered through private plans approved by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

In October, DHSS will send eligible PAAD and Senior Gold beneficiaries letters telling them which of the approved plans best meets each person’s needs, based on the types of medications and the pharmacy that person has been using.

PAAD participants who want to keep their PAAD benefits must select a Medicare plan – either from among the options presented by department, or a plan of their own choosing -- and return the information to DHSS.

If no choice is made, the department will facilitate enrollment into a plan from among those recommended for each person.   DHSS will do the necessary paperwork on behalf of beneficiaries and begin enrolling people in plans on November 15.

Medicare will then become the PAAD participant’s primary payer for prescriptions.  New Jersey will provide “wrap-around” coverage, picking up the remaining costs of maintaining the PAAD participant’s usual benefit level.  All of this is handled behind-the-scenes by DHSS.  Beneficiaries will continue to pick up their prescriptions as usual, paying the $5 co-pay.

Senior Gold participants who enroll pay their own monthly premiums for the Medicare benefit.  Enrolling could save a senior money if his or her prescription drug costs typically exceed $50 a month, or if the person develops a costly health condition in the future. 

Those in Senior Gold should note that it will cost more to sign up for Medicare prescription drug coverage after May 15, 2006.  Premium costs increase one percent for each month enrollment is delayed after May 15, so it is important for Senior Gold beneficiaries to make an early decision.

“We want to make sure people participating in our programs receive all the benefits –– to which they are entitled,” Commissioner Jacobs said.  “By enrolling our eligible PAAD participants in the new prescription drug program, we will be able to continue to maintain New Jersey’s generous pharmaceutical benefits programs that will benefit low- and moderate-income New Jerseyans for years to come.”

For more information on PAAD, Senior Gold and the new Medicare program, visit the department’s web site at www.njpaad.gov and www.njsrgold.gov) or call the 24-hour hotline at 1-800-792-9745.

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