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AARP New Jersey, June 4, 2010
Thanks in part, to Susan Baratz’ willingness to tell her story by video, AARP was able to launch a campaign to stop the proposed co-pays and first-ever deductible for the state’s prescription drug program PAAD. Now the Governor has rescinded this proposal. Here is Susan—a reminder of how a personal story can make all the difference.
AARP Statement by Marilyn Askin, AARP Chief Legislative Advocate
We agree times are tough. We know the state budget must be cut. But the state fiscal recovery plan is turning to some devasting policy. New Jersey is turning to the state’s poorest citizens and demanding that they come up with 54 million dollars to stem a shortfall.
The Pharmaceutical Assistance for the Aging and Disabled or PAAD serves approximately 125,000 low-income seniors and disabled so that they have access to affordable prescription drugs with low-fee co-payments and no deductible. Unfortunately all of that could change. The proposed state budget is calling for a $310 deductible for all PAAD recipients and the more than doubling of co-pays for brand name prescriptions. This will equal $54 million.
Perhaps a real-life example will help make this situation clear. Meet Susan Baratz, 68, of Whiting, NJ. She has a 45 year old child with the mental capacity of an 11 year old. She has a 92 year old mom with dementia. As a family, they take 22 medications a month.
Susan has been a caregiver for most of her adult life. At age 2 ½, her son suffered a bad fall that stopped his mental growth after he reached age 11. For many years, he has had to take multiple prescriptions to ease the headaches that plague him daily. Other drugs have been prescribed to help with his motor coordination skills.
Susan’s mother needs multiple prescriptions every day as well. These include several to combat high blood pressure and high cholesterol and one to prevent blood clots.
Then there is Susan herself. Her osteo-arthritis began when she was in her 40s. She is barely able to walk now and is in such pain she needs four doses of the powerful pain blocker Percocet to get through each day. The family lives together in a trailer home and their only income is from Social Security. Susan says that with 22 prescriptions, food, insurance and other monthly necessities, their income is often not sufficient and she has had to use her credit card to make up the difference. Any savings the family may have had are long gone with little future hope of regaining financial ground.
“What many people take for granted is a big deal to us,” Susan says. “Right now, I can’t even afford to buy my son a new pair of sneakers.”
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