Department of Health and Senior Services selects Medicare drug discount card provider

Health and Senior Services Commissioner Clifton R. Lacy, M.D. has announced the selection of Medco’s Preferred Prescriptions Discount Card Program to provide federal Medicare drug discount services to 81,000 beneficiaries in the state’s Pharmaceutical Assistance to the Aged and Disabled (PAAD) program.

Preferred Prescriptions is sponsored by Medco Health Solutions Inc. of Franklin Lakes. The company will provide the service at no cost to the state starting June 1. Preferred Prescriptions was chosen from among six Medicare-approved firms submitting proposals to the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services.

“Medco and Preferred Prescriptions have an extensive pharmacy network and years of experience in pharmacy benefits management. As a result, they can offer our seniors convenient service and seamless coordination with PAAD benefits,” Commissioner Lacy said.

“The only noticeable change for PAAD participants is the new identification card that they will receive by the end of the month. The card will show that they are eligible for both PAAD and Preferred Prescriptions services,” the Commissioner added.

Unless they choose to opt out by May 10, 2004, the 81,000 PAAD participants whose income is low enough to benefit from the federal discount drug program will be automatically enrolled in Preferred Prescriptions.  Participants will receive PAAD benefits along with their Preferred Prescriptions benefits.

PAAD participants’ benefits will remain the same. They will still pay the $5 co-pay for prescriptions and be able to get all the same drugs available under PAAD.  In fact, with the new Preferred Prescriptions service, co-pays will be less than $5 on drugs costing less than $50.

New Jersey is taking advantage of a recent federal government decision allowing states to automatically enroll people served by state-funded prescription assistance programs into the federal program.  This ensures that seniors get all the benefits to which they are entitled without the confusion and unnecessary paperwork that they would otherwise have faced. The Medicare drug discount card program is expected to save the state $90 million.

Only single individuals with incomes below $12,569 and married individuals with incomes below $16,862 are eligible for the $600 annual benefit, called Transitional Assistance.  For PAAD beneficiaries with incomes over these levels, discounts offered under the Medicare discount card will not be better than the generous benefits provided under our existing PAAD program.  The same applies for people eligible for the PAAD expansion program, Senior Gold.

Last month, the PAAD program requested proposals from the 21 firms approved by Medicare to offer drug discount services in the state. PAAD received six proposals, from which Preferred Prescriptions was chosen.


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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