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Hoosier Rx helps seniors with drug bills

A prescription drug bill for seniors passed the Senate yesterday, but until the law is fully implemented and its effects known, low-income seniors can continue to get significant help from the state under Hoosier Rx, a little- known program enacted in October 2000.
The program uses tobacco settlement money to help low-income seniors purchase drugs, and applications are still being accepted, Grace Chandler, the state director of Hoosier Rx, said yesterday. The program was put into place by the late Gov. Frank L. O’Bannon.
Indiana residents age 65 or older who are single and have $1,011 or less a month in income or $1,364 a month if married, and have no prescription drug coverage through insurance or Medicaid, can qualify for a Hoosier Rx Drug Card (similar to a line of credit to purchase medicines). That will help pay prescription drug costs at participating drug stores. To apply, call 1-888-267-4679 or visit www.IN.gov/HoosierRx.
‘We are still taking applications,’ Chandler said.
Next, the state must look at the language in the prescription drug bill to determine how the costs to seniors will be impacted and thus the Hoosier Rx program.
Chandler said the federal legislation is expected to provide a discount card to Medicare recipients next year and the year after, until the full measure of the law takes effect.
Private pharmaceutical firm programs are also expected to continue, probably until the new law takes full effect in 2006.
‘We’re kind of sitting on our hands in anticipation,’ said Kathryn Tesar, spokesperson for Together Rx, a private program also designed to help low-income seniors purchase prescription drugs produced by a consortium of manufacturers.
‘It is the intent of Together Rx to continue to assist its card holders,’ Tesar said.
While that card and others like it are good only for purchases of medication from the sponsoring companies, the Hoosier Rx card is good on all prescription medications, Chandler said.
But Together Rx can save the user 20 to 40 percent (or more, in some cases) on the brand-name medications of sponsoring pharmaceutical companies, which include Abbott Laboratories, AstraZeneca, Aventis, Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., GlaxoSmithKline, Janssen, Novartis and Ortho-McNeil. Some 170 medicines are covered.
‘I just want to go out and celebrate, I am so happy,’ said a Corydon woman on Medicare who had just purchased a monthly prescription for $6 that normally costs more than $100. Though not identified for privacy reasons, she had obtained a Together Rx card recently in a little more than a week after applying.
The card is free and eligible to Medicare recipients or persons with disabilities who have an annual income of less than $28,000 if single, or $38,000 per couple.
For more information, call 1-800-865-7211 toll free or visit www.Together-Rx.com.
Several other companies also offer assistance to persons on Medicare or people with disabilities, who have no existing prescription drug coverage, as follows:
Pfizer ‘ Share Card available to persons earning $18,000 a year or less, or couples earning $24,000 or less. Recipients pay $15 for each 30-day supply of a Pfizer retail drug. Call 1-800-717-6005 or visit www.pfizerforliving.com.
Eli Lilly ‘ Lilly Answers Card available to persons earning $18,000 or less a year or $24,000 or less per couple. Recipients pay $12 for a one-month supply of a Lilly retail drug. Call 1-877-795-4559 or visit www.lillyanswers.com.
GlaxoSmithKline ‘ Orange Card available to a single person earning $26,000 a year or less, or $35,000 a year per couple. Recipients save 30 percent on the cost of all GlaxoSmithKline drugs. Call 1-888-672-6436 or visit www.gsk.com.
Several organizations provide help in accessing such programs, including the Indiana Area Agencies on Aging, 1-800-986-3505 to locate the nearest agency or visit www.iaaaa.org; Senior Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP). Call 1-800-452-4800 or visit www.IN.gov/idoi/shiip.

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