SENATE, No. 1562

 

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

 

210th LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED MAY 30, 2002

 

 

Sponsored by:

Senator JOSEPH F. VITALE

District 19 (Middlesex)

Senator SHARPE JAMES

District 29 (Essex and Union)

 

Co-Sponsored by:

Senators B.Smith, Sweeney, Buono and Girgenti

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

    Directs DHSS to prepare and disseminate informational materials about prescription drug programs for senior citizens and disabled persons.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

    As introduced.

 


An Act concerning prescription drug programs and supplementing Title 26 of the Revised Statutes.

 

    Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

    1. The Legislature finds and declares that:

    a. One of the most serious health care problems facing senior citizens and disabled persons throughout the nation is the high cost of prescription drugs and the inability to afford needed medications;

    b. The State provides for prescription drug coverage for senior citizens and disabled persons, who meet certain income eligibility requirements, through the Medicaid, Pharmaceutical Assistance to the Aged and Disabled (PAAD) and Senior Gold programs. Approximately 141,000 senior citizens and disabled persons currently participate in the Medicaid program, and 228,000 senior citizens and disabled persons participate in the PAAD and Senior Gold programs, although many other residents of the State meet the income eligibility requirements of these programs and would qualify for, and could benefit from, the programs;

    c. The United States Department of Veterans Affairs provides for prescription drug coverage for eligible veterans, many of whom are senior citizens and disabled persons, and the Medicare program provides limited coverage to its beneficiaries for certain drugs;

    d. Recently, several pharmaceutical manufacturers have established pharmacy discount programs for the purchase of certain drugs at participating pharmacies, but each program has its own eligibility requirements and is limited to that manufacturer's brand of drugs. Also, various private organizations and pharmacy chains offer drug discount cards, sometimes for a fee, to members of the public;

    e. It is apparent that there are numerous beneficial programs that provide assistance in the purchase of prescription drugs, but the confusing array of different eligibility requirements and limitations on what drugs are covered and at which pharmacies has resulted in a large number of potentially eligible senior citizens and disabled persons not being able to avail themselves of needed drug assistance that may be available to them; and

    f. The NJ EASE program, which is a partnership between the Department of Health and Senior Services and county governments, provides an easy way for senior citizens and their families to learn about and obtain needed services, including health promotion and health insurance counseling. The State Health Insurance Program (SHIP), also in the Department of Health and Senior Services, provides free help to Medicare beneficiaries throughout the State who have problems with, or questions about, their health insurance.


    2. In order to ensure that senior citizens and disabled persons in the State are provided with information about drug assistance programs and assistance in accessing these programs, the Commissioner of Health and Senior Services shall:

    a. prepare informational materials for use by the State NJ EASE program and the State Health Insurance Program (SHIP) that provide easily understandable, comprehensive information about what drug assistance is available to senior citizens and disabled persons in the State, and update the information as frequently as necessary;

    b. provide assistance, through the NJ EASE and SHIP programs, in applying for State pharmaceutical assistance programs; and

    c. provide information, through the NJ EASE and SHIP programs, about where and how to apply for federal programs and the pharmaceutical manufacturers' and commercial discount drug programs.

 

    3. This act shall take effect immediately.

 

STATEMENT

 

    This bill directs the Commissioner of Health and Senior Services to:

    -- prepare informational materials for use by the State NJ EASE program and the State Health Insurance Program (SHIP) that provide easily understandable, comprehensive information about what drug assistance is available to senior citizens and disabled persons in the State;

    -- provide assistance, through the NJ EASE and SHIP programs, in applying for State pharmaceutical assistance programs; and

    -- provide information, through the NJ EASE and SHIP programs, about where and how to apply for federal programs and the pharmaceutical manufacturers' and commercial discount drug programs.

    While there are numerous beneficial State, federal and private programs that provide assistance in the purchase of prescription drugs, the programs present a confusing array of different eligibility requirements and limitations on what drugs are covered and at which pharmacies, which has resulted in a large number of potentially eligible senior citizens and disabled persons not being able to avail themselves of needed drug assistance. By enabling senior citizens and disabled persons to obtain information about the various programs in a comprehensive manner, more eligible persons will be able to access the drug assistance programs that will be of greatest benefit to them.