Picture yourself in this situation: You are 60 years old and have been a hard-working taxpayer your entire life. Suddenly, you suffer an accident and become disabled. You can no longer work and have significant medical bills. You find it difficult to afford food and heating. You feel blessed, however, because New Jersey is the leader in pharmaceutical assistance for low-income seniors and disabled adults like yourself. Thanks to Pharmaceutical Assistance for the Aged and Disabled (PAAD), you at least do not have to worry about Medicare premiums and, instead of paying hundreds of dollars for the prescriptions you need, you have a greatly reduced co-pay.
You then hear that the state is trying to “save money” by cutting the budget for PAAD and Senior Gold, another pharmaceutical aid program. You will have to pay a whopping $310 deductible for your prescriptions. After that, the co-pay for most of your brand-name drugs will more than double. But there is a happy twist. Governor Christie rescinds this budget proposal and declares that PAAD and Senior Gold are too important to be hurt. You breathe a sigh of relief.
One year later, however, the economic downturn which tempted the state to consider such a drastic option in 2010 has not improved. You start to worry. Will the government be lured into the same decision this year?
This scenario is all too real for many PAAD and Senior Gold recipients. It illustrates exactly why AARP New Jersey wants to make sure that no threat to the two programs arises this fiscal year. 166,074 New Jerseyans depend on these programs. AARP feels the state should not turn to our most vulnerable citizens to balance the budget – not this year, not any year. Individuals currently on PAAD have annual incomes of $24,432 or less while couples have annual incomes of $29,956 or less. They do not have any financial alternatives, but the State does. AARP hopes that our legislators will protect vulnerable disabled and older adults by rejecting any budget that would diminish PAAD or Senior Gold.
Together, we can defend the thousands of New Jerseyans who rely on these vital programs.