TRENTON — Senators Bob Gordon and Jim Whelan today blasted their Republican colleagues for voting to maintain the governor’s $13 million cut to one of the most frail populations in the entire state.
The Senators leveled their criticism after an attempt to override Gov. Christie’s line-item veto for prescription drug assistance to “dual eligibles” — 133,000 residents poor enough to qualify for Medicaid benefits and old enough to qualify for Medicare.
“The Republicans have told the most vulnerable of the most vulnerable in New Jersey that they on their own, and in the most painful way possible,” said Gordon (D-Bergen). “This is literally money out of the pockets of residents who don’t have anything. It’s deplorable and a horrible message that New Jersey is now sending to these residents.”
Dual eligibles rely on Medicaid to pay Medicare premiums and cost-sharing, and to cover critical benefits Medicare does not cover, such as long-term care. Since 2006, New Jersey has covered the costs of drug co-pays and non-formulary drugs for these residents. According to the Department of Human Services, the average dual eligible individual has five prescriptions per month, and would have to pay on average of between $3.50 and $6.50 for each co-pay — up to an additional $360 annually for the average individual.
“This is truly one of Christie’s unkindest cuts, and the Republicans can’t even muster one vote to reverse it,” said Whelan (D-Atlantic). “This is not a sport. This is about people’s lives. This is about elderly parents and grandparents who now will literally have to choose between food and medicine. And that’s a choice not one millionaire that the Republicans keep coddling will ever have to make.”
The override failed by a 24-15 vote.