New Jersey AARP ‘pleasantly surprised’ by Christie speech

TRENTON – Moving aged, blind and disabled Medicaid recipients into managed care to save a total of $41 million isn’t necessarily a bad thing, provided people don’t lose vital services, according to a spokesman for AARP in response to Gov. Chris Christie’s budget speech.

“There’s a tremendous amount of detail,” said Doug Johnston, government affairs manager for NJAARP. “But if there is no reduction to services, it could be a good thing.”

In his address Tuesday, Christie said he intended to increase hospital funding by $20 million from last year’s budget.

“But at the same time, to make room for these priorities, we must reform Medicaid, a federal program simply running out of control,” the governor said.

“In this budget, we propose to move our aged, blind, and disabled recipients into modern managed care, and move their pharmacy benefit to modern managed care as well – saving a total of $41 million while still providing vital services. …Even with $250 million of Medicaid savings in this budget, and additional projected savings from a $300 million global waiver to reform Medicaid, spending will grow by nearly $1 billion over last year.”

Christie also promised to continue to fund the increase that was made in last year’s budget to P.A.A.D. and Senior Gold Prescription Assistance Programs.

“We were very pleasantly surprised that the governor did not propose changes to funding P.A.A.D. and Senior Gold,” Johnston said.

The AARP representative said his organization met two weeks ago with a representative of the Christie administration but did not talk about Medicaid.

“We would certainly want to be consulted in the weeks ahead,” Johnston said.

New Jersey AARP ‘pleasantly surprised’ by Christie speech