Help with Prescription Drugs on the Way for County's Seniors

The Register Guard (Eugene, OR), March 31, 2003 | Go to article overview

Help with Prescription Drugs on the Way for County's Seniors


Byline: Randi Bjornstad The Register-Guard

Some Lane County residents will soon be getting a little welcome relief from the high cost of their prescription drugs.

The state's Senior Prescription Drug Assistance Program, which allows Oregonians over age 65 to buy medications at the same discounted rates paid by people on Medicaid, will be available in Lane County beginning next week. The benefit is already offered in 24 counties and will be available statewide next month.

Program manager Sandy Wood estimates that the savings could be as high as 20 percent for some.

Participants will be required to pay a $50 annual fee, which will pay for the cost of administering the program.

"We believe that people will quickly make their $50 fee back through the savings on their prescriptions," Wood said.

As many as 100,000 senior citizens statewide may qualify for the program, Wood said, but applications have been coming in slowly. In the 24 counties where the program exists only 1,300 people have applied.

"I think part of the reason is that we don't have money for advertising, so it's hard to get the word out to let people know this program exists," Wood said.

Laurie Patty, owner of Postal Pharmacy in Oakridge, said she has signed up for the program and is ready to offer low-cost prescriptions to eligible senior citizens.

"I did some checking around here, and we probably have almost 1,000 people (in the Oakridge area) over 65 years old," Patty said. "I would guess that maybe half of them might qualify for this program."

The people who probably will benefit most from the program include those with chronic diseases, such as diabetes, that bring a host of related medical conditions, Patty said.

"Many of those people have high blood pressure, heart conditions and high cholesterol - individually, their prescriptions might not cost much, but taken together it can really add up," she said.

Wood said that the program will cover all prescribed medications but not those purchased over the counter, even when recommended by a doctor for a patient's use.

Medical supplies and durable medical equipment will not be covered.

The state also has a mail-order pharmacy that allows eligible senior citizens to purchase drugs needed on an ongoing basis, often at even greater savings than the Medicaid rate available through pharmacies. …

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