Congressman Frank Pallone Joins RX4NJ to Promote Prescription Drug Access Programs to the Hispanic Community
U.S. Representative Frank Pallone, Jr. joined with state and local leaders gathered today at the Chandler Health Center to promote Rx4NJ to the Hispanic community. The public awareness campaign is in response to a recent AARP study that found Hispanics in particular have difficulty paying for their prescription medicines. Today's event was designed to educate New Jersey's Hispanic community about the availability of patient assistance programs that provide free or nearly free prescription medicines to eligible residents. Rx4NJ - available in English and Spanish - is designed to reach a key health care constituency, which is the largest uninsured ethnic group in the Garden State.
"Prescription medicines have revolutionized modern medicine by keeping people out of hospitals and helping to avoid other catastrophic health problems," Pallone said. "However, prescription medicines can be too expensive for many New Jersey families who do not have insurance. Those particularly hard-hit are those in the Hispanic community, but I hope that we will begin seeing some improvements in those numbers with the help of the Rx4NJ program. Now that help is, potentially, only a phone call away, we have an obligation to reach out to Hispanics in our communities so that they know this assistance is available through this important resource."
Launched in early January 2005, Rx4NJ is a no-cost, confidential service that links eligible New Jerseyans with patient assistance programs that provide free or nearly free prescription drugs. Operating through a toll free telephone number and Web site, Rx4NJ is the first patient assistance program (PAP) that specifically targets New Jersey residents. Rx4NJ is a one-stop, bilingual clearinghouse for more than 350 PAPs, providing access to more than 3,200 critical medicines.
"As a member of Congress, I know the important role that Rx4NJ has played in addressing a public policy issue: access to affordable medicines," Pallone continued. "Rx4NJ has and will continue to serve a valuable purpose in helping a vulnerable segment of our state's population. Now with Rx4NJ---a one-stop, bi-lingual clearinghouse---the Hispanic community will be able to access the same program that thousands of New Jerseyans have already taken advantage of."
Recent data show that in Congressman Pallone's District, nearly 12,000 people have benefited from Rx4NJ.
According to the latest health insurance figures from the U.S. Bureau of the Census, more than 32 percent of New Jersey's Hispanic population under 65 years of age is uninsured - a total of 343,370. The AARP study, released on May 24, found that four out of 10 Hispanics have difficulty paying for their medicines.
"There are more than 340,000 Hispanic New Jersey residents who do not have health insurance," said Martin Perez, President of the Latino Leadership Alliance of New Jersey (LLANJ) and one of the speakers at the announcement. "Each day, these people in our community work hard to provide for their families and contribute to their communities. It is a distressing reality that they may have to choose between paying their rent, putting food on their table, or being able to afford life-saving, life-enhancing prescription medicines. For that reason it is important that our community be aware of the benefits available through the RX for NJ. We hope that the Hispanic community will be able to have better access to prescription medicines as a result of this outreach program."
With one phone call or mouse click, patients will now have access to hundreds of prescription drug programs. Assistance is generally provided free or on a steeply discounted basis to patients who do not have prescription drug coverage or are underinsured and cannot afford the out-of-pocket cost of their medicine. Each PAP also has its own eligibility criteria which are usually based on income, household size and status of prescription drug coverage.
By answering 10 simple questions, a patient's eligibility for more than 300 PAPs will be determined and the patient will be able to fill out the appropriate enrollment form - online or over the phone - for each program for which the patient may be eligible. Enrollment forms can also be mailed if a patient prefers, to be filled out and returned directly to the PAP sponsor.
"We are using every possible resource to educate and engage every New Jersey resident about the benefits of Rx4NJ," said Bob Franks, President of the HealthCare Institute of New Jersey, one of 61 members of Rx4NJ Partnership. "In addition to reaching out to members of the medical community, we are spreading the Rx4NJ message to every corner of the Garden State - including urban and Hispanic communities - because we feel this program is so important."
According to Franks, the response to Rx4NJ to date is extraordinary.
"Between its launch on January 4, 2005 and August 6, 2007 more than 225,000 New Jerseyans have logged on or called Rx4NJ," said Franks. "We are encouraged that we can fill a previously unmet need and we look forward to educating Hispanic residents - and many more - and providing eligible patients with the medicines they need."
New Jerseyans can learn about their eligibility for free or discounted prescription drugs by calling 1-888-RX-FOR-NJ or visiting www.Rx4NJ.org on the Internet.
The Rx4NJ, A Partnership for Prescription Assistance includes a broad coalition of health care groups, patient advocacy organizations, and pharmaceutical and medical technology companies.