TRENTON – Senator Dana L. Redd, D-Camden and Gloucester, released the following statement today regarding the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee hearings with the Department of Human Services:
“I am concerned with the Governor’s proposal that we impose a co-pay on prescriptions and emergency room visits for certain Medicaid recipients. Traditionally, Medicaid has covered the cost of their co-pays, but now, in an effort to save State funds, Governor Corzine is calling on them to pay.
“These proposed co-pays would range from $2 to $10 per prescription, and while to many of us, that seems like a nominal amount, it would really add up for people who are on four or five different prescriptions.
“In terms of hospital co-pays, Medicaid recipients would be called upon to pay between $3 and $6 per visit. Many of our poorer residents use local emergency rooms as their primary source of medical care, and imposing these co-pays on them could prove to be a financial hardship on them.
“What we don’t want is people opting to forego their prescriptions or receiving the medical care they need because they aren’t able to come up with the funds necessary to cover the costs of these co-payments.
“While I am encouraged that some of our most vulnerable Medicaid recipients – pregnant women, children and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients wouldn’t be responsible for paying these co-pays, many others would.
“While I am committed to examining ways to conserve State funds, I’m not so sure that calling on the State’s poor and disabled to cover their medical costs is the right way to do it.
“I am also concerned with the progress of efforts to allow developmentally disabled residents who are able to live alone to move back to their communities. The State has a responsibility to allow these residents to live independently, and provide funding for caretakers and transportation to help them receive the medical care that they need.
“We must also look at areas where goods and services can be consolidated for privately owned and public health agencies. It is always more difficult to hold on to staff at these public facilities because salaries are lower than at their privately owned counterparts. I’m interested in looking into ways to help conserve funds by consolidating services between these two different types of facilities that offer similar services.
“We owe it to our poor and disabled residents to make sure that their needs are met, and that they aren’t sacrificed during this budget process.”