State program helps with medication assistance

State program helps with medication assistance With the cost of prescription drugs on the rise, an increased number of people are taking part in a state program that helps low-income individuals obtain needed prescription medications.

The Rx Access Program helps people who meet certain eligibility guidelines gain access to drug company assistance programs which supply prescription medications at low or no cost, said Gov. Bill Janklow. Because some drug companies do not provide assistance programs, the Rx Access Program's pharmacist may look for similar alternatives to an individual's prescribed medications, if possible.

"The Rx Access Program is a wonderful opportunity for individuals on fixed incomes who are struggling with the cost of their prescription medications," Janklow said. "This program helps people apply for drug company assistance programs that they would otherwise probably never know about."

Administered by the Department of Social Services' Adult Services and Aging Program, the Rx Access Program this year to date has assisted 1,803 people complete 9,521 drug company applications for medication assistance. Last year, the program assisted 1,350 people.

While the number of claims approved by the drug companies isn't known, Janklow said the dollar value of the claims submitted through the program so far this year exceeds $1.7 million.

"With the cost of prescription medications skyrocketing, this program is making a real difference in the lives of people who may otherwise go without their needed medications," Janklow said. "This program is helping to keep people healthy, and this in turn helps them remain in their own homes for longer than previously possible."

To qualify for the Rx Access Program, people must meet certain eligibility requirements. Individuals must have no prescription drug coverage through private insurance, they cannot qualify for any state assistance programs for prescription drugs, and they must have a low income. For example, the income limit for a single person is $10,000 a year and $14,000 a year for a couple.

In an effort to reach more people who may be having problems paying for their prescription medications, Janklow directed the program to lower its age requirement from 65 to 19. This change went into effect March of 2002.

"This program is an excellent example of state employees researching private industry and staying on top of current issues in order to better serve the citizens of South Dakota," Janklow said.

To obtain an application to apply for the Rx Access Program, people can contact Adult Services and Aging at (605) 773-3656 or toll-free at 1-866-854-5465. People can also apply online at Rx Access' Web site: http://www.state.sd.us/social/ASA/Medications/RxAccess.htm.

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