New Jersey announces automatic enrollment in new medicare drug discount program

New Jersey will take advantage of a recent decision by the federal government allowing states to automatically enroll low-income beneficiaries in the Pharmaceutical Assistance to the Aged and Disabled Program (PAAD) into the new Medicare Drug Discount Card Program.

Nearly 81,000 low income New Jersey seniors will be automatically enrolled so they can receive benefits to which they are entitled. The new Medicare Drug Discount Card is expected to save the State $90 million in Fiscal Year 2005.

Governor McGreevey, the New Jersey Congressional Delegation, the AARP and drug manufacturers have been working with the federal government since December, 2003 in an effort to allow PAAD beneficiaries to automatically enroll in these new Medicare drug benefits without confusion and unnecessary paperwork.

“I would like to commend CMS on their recent decision to allow our State's low-income seniors to automatically be enrolled in the Medicare Drug Discount Card Program,’’ said Gov. James E. McGreevey. “This is the right decision for New Jersey. Our seniors deserve to reap the full savings and benefits through a seamless process.  Only by working cooperatively can we address the burden of rising prescription drug costs.’’

Commissioner of the Department of Health and Senior Services  Clifton R. Lacy, M.D. said that as a result of the determination and efforts of Governor James E. McGreevey, New Jersey’s congressional delegation and the AARP, “New Jersey’s seniors will get all the benefits to which they are entitled and none of the confusion and unnecessary paperwork they would have otherwise faced.’’

Single individuals with incomes below $12,569 and married individuals with incomes below $16,862 who are enrolled in Medicare can receive a credit of $600 per year, called Transitional Assistance.  PAAD beneficiaries with income below these limits will have Medicare benefits along with their PAAD benefits. 

Next week, PAAD will send letters to all beneficiaries regardless of income explaining the new program and what they should or should not do to take advantage of the plan’s benefits. 

PAAD beneficiaries who are eligible for the $600 credit will receive a letter from PAAD notifying them that they have been automatically enrolled in the new Medicare Discount Drug Card Program. (View the auto enrollment letter).

This letter will also inform them they will receive a new PAAD identification card prior to June 1, 2004. This new card will have both the PAAD state seal and the logo of one of the Medicare-endorsed discount card vendors.  The new card will entitle beneficiaries to the same PAAD benefits they are currently receiving. In fact, for prescriptions which cost less than $50, beneficiaries will pay less than the $5 PAAD co-pay.

People who receive the letter advising them that they will be automatically enrolled in a Medicare Drug Discount Card program will be advised that they can “opt-out” or deny the automatic enrollment.  However, the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services encourages seniors to allow the PAAD office to handle the automatic enrollment because it will mean a seamless coordination of benefits between PAAD and the Medicare Drug Discount Card program. (View the general recipient letter).

Single PAAD beneficiaries with income over $12,569 and married beneficiaries with incomes over $16,862 do not qualify for the $600 Transitional Assistance benefit under Medicare.  For these PAAD beneficiaries, discounts offered under the Medicare Discount card will not be better than the benefits provided under PAAD.  The same applies for people eligible for the PAAD expansion program, Senior Gold.  These higher income individuals will receive a letter from PAAD advising them not to enroll in a Medicare Drug Discount Card program because there will be no benefit and they would be paying an unnecessary enrollment fee.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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