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Residents could get break on prescription drugs

A prescription drug discount program will soon be available to residents of Harrison County.
The program, which is already used in 11 Indiana counties, will offer uninsured or underinsured consumers immediate, at-the-register discounts of up to 34 percent on their prescription drug purchases.
‘It’s a good deal for the community,’ James Goldman, Harrison County Commissioner chairman, said last week.
The program, sponsored by the National Association of Counties (NACo), may be used by all county residents, regardless of age, income or existing health coverage. There is no enrollment form, no membership fees and no restrictions or limits on frequency of use. The free cards may be used at any participating retail pharmacy. The discount card is not insurance.
Goldman said Monday he anticipates the prescription drug discount card program will be made available to Harrison County residents as early as the end of February and at the very latest, early March.
To utilize the program, a person needs only to pick up a card and present it to the pharmacists when filling a prescription. If a person loses their card, they simply pick up a new one.
The free cards may be used by anyone who does not have insurance or when a person’s Medicaid, Medicare or insurance plan will not cover a particular prescription. The card cannot be used in conjunction with a person’s insurance coverage.
Goldman said the commissioners plan to distribute the discount cards to local pharmacies and also have them available in the Harrison County Auditor’s office.
Those using the card can expect a discount of 14 percent to 35 percent, depending on whether the prescription is generic or a name brand. The average savings, according to NACo, is 20 percent.
Since the program began, $16.37 million has been saved by consumers on more than 1.45 million prescriptions filled using the NACo discount card.
The program is administered by Caremark Rx Inc. of Nashville, Tenn., a pharmaceutical services company, which negotiates with pharmacies to offer a discount on their retail prices. The cardholder pays the negotiated discount price or the pharmacies’ retail price, whichever is lower. According to NACo, a dispensing fee of $3.50 will be added to the cost of prescriptions. Even with the dispensing fee, NACo claims users will save money.
Goldman said he has not checked to see which local pharmacies would accept the discount cards. According to NACo, more than 57,000 pharmacies accept the card nationwide.
Goldman said he thinks the local pharmacies will want to accept the cards because it will help their business.
Officials in neighboring Dubois County just began the discount drug card program this month. Dubois has been a long-standing member of NACo.
Dubois County Auditor Martha Wehr said to her knowledge the program is working just fine and implementing the program was easy. She said several people have asked their township trustees about the program and many are picking up cards at various locations around the county.
‘NACo sends everything,’ Wehr said. ‘It was really pretty simple.’
Wehr said she handed out the information and cards to the county’s township trustees, town halls, pharmacies, health department, welfare department and other county offices.
She said pharmacies in her county have welcomed the use of the cards, especially when they heard Caremark was administering the program.
‘They all know who Caremark is,’ she said.
Wehr said she is interested to know how much county residents will save from using the cards, information she believes NACo lists annually on its Web site at NACo.org.
The Harrison County Board of Commissioners requested $690 to pay for the yearly NACo membership fee from the Harrison County Council last week. The council approved the request unanimously. The NACo membership allows Harrison County to offer the free prescription drug discount cards. The county has been a NACo member in the past but the program is new.
In May 2005, the NACo board of directors made the program available to all member counties after a successful launch in 2004, as a 17-county pilot program in partnership with Caremark.
In addition to the discount prescription drug card program, Harrison County can participate in other NACo programs.
NACo provides legislative representation before Congress and lobbies for legislation beneficial to counties. The company provides workshops, training programs and technical assistance and works to promote county government. NACo’s membership includes counties from across the United States and represents two-thirds of all counties and more than 80 percent of the nation’s population.
Currently ‘ aside from Dubois ‘ Blackford, Clinton, Delaware, Hendricks, Monroe, Montgomery, Morgan, Owen, Rush and Sullivan counties in Indiana are NACo members and participate in the free prescription drug discount card program sponsored by the National Association of Counties.

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