Bryant Urges Strong Enrollment Effort For Drug Benefits

TRENTON – Senator Wayne R. Bryant, the Chairman of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, today urged State Health officials to wage an “aggressive and comprehensive” effort to enroll eligible senior and disabled citizens for new Medicare health benefits so New Jersey realizes its $90 million savings from the complicated federal program.

“The Bush Administration has made it very difficult for our eligible seniors and disabled to qualify for benefits,” Senator Bryant said after listening to officials from the Department of Health and Senior Services who appeared before the Senate panel. “What has to be explained now is that to qualify for PAAD and Senior Gold, people have to sign up for Medicare.”

Senator Bryant also urged the Bush Administration to heed the calls of U.S. Sens. Frank Lautenberg and Jon Corzine to simplify the Medicare forms so the more than 200,000 eligible seniors and disabled fully participate in the prescription drug benefits program.

“Right now, a lot of seniors are scared because of all the complicated paper work that is intimidating and unneccessary,” Senator Bryant said. “But I have been encouraged by the commitment of Dr. (Fred M.) Jacobs (Health and Senior Services Commissioner) and the rest of the Health Department to come to the rescue of our seniors and disabled.”

Senator Bryant said State officials must make every effort possible to facilitate enrollment in the federal Medicare program so “the full $90 million” is realized by New Jersey.

“We can’t wait for the federal government to make the necessary changes in its program because that would be much too long a wait,” Senator Bryant said.