Trenton – Legislation meant to help New Jersey seniors affordably manage prescription drug costs by expanding their eligibility to existing state programs was released from the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.
The bill, S-3, sponsored by Senator Joe Vitale, Senator Joe Lagana, and Senator Andrew Zwicker, would increase income eligibility for the Pharmaceutical Assistance to the Aged and Disabled Program and to the Senior Gold Prescription Discount Program. Under the legislation, an applicant with an income equal to or less than 400 percent of the federal poverty line would be eligible for PAAD. In 2023, 400 percent of the federal poverty line is $58,320 for an individual and $78,880 for those who are married.
The bill also eliminates the Senior Gold income threshold, so as to capture all seniors and individuals with disabilities.
“Deep worries about being able to afford prescription medicines is a common refrain I hear from senior citizens, low-income families and individuals who live with chronic health conditions,” said Senator Vitale (D-Middlesex), chair of the Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee. “From life-saving medications to the pills many of us take to maintain our health, working to keep prescriptions affordable across the board is one step we can take to safeguard our residents.”
These senior-focused programs cover prescriptions excluded by primary insurance, eliminating the risk of extremely expensive, uncovered medicine.
“Our seniors and those who live with disabilities face daily obstacles that are compounded by the high costs of prescription medications,” said Senator Lagana (D-Bergen). The adjustments presented in this legislation will help relieve some of the economic pressures brought on by those costs, and allow seniors to live fuller and healthier lives.”
Newly eligible seniors below 400 percent of the federal poverty level would see a benefit of more than $700 annually and seniors above that threshold would see an average benefit of more than $400.
“For our seniors, who are typically living on a fixed income, rising costs remain a significant issue, especially increased health care insurance and prescription costs,” said Senator Zwicker (D-Middlesex/Mercer/Somerset/Hunterdon). “This bill will help keep prescription drugs affordable at a time when economic relief is vitally important.”
The bill, S-3, was released from committee by a votes of 12-0.