Lifestyle

RxHelp is prescription for seniors, low-income

The Mirror

RxHelp for Washington, a new statewide prescription drug clearinghouse that helps patients obtain free and discounted prescription drugs, says it has found out quickly how much it’s needed.

In the free program’s first four months, more than 120,000 people have sought assistance from RxHelp, officials said. More than half of the applicants were matched with a prescription drug assistance program to help them pay for their medication.

RxHelp, which started last November, received 121,411 inquiries those first four months and found help for 64,148 people.

“This is all about access –– helping people get the medicine they need,” said Joel Neier, president of Epilepsy Foundation Northwest, during an editorial board interview Wednesday with the Mirror. The epilepsy group is among more than 40 healthcare, patient advocacy and social service organizations supporting RxHelp.

The high response to RxHelp is proof of the “unfortunate reality that some people in our state need help paying for their medication,” said James Whitfield, senior officer at Washington Health Foundation, another supporter of the program.

RxHelp’s Web site (www.rxhelpforwa.org) and toll-free number (1-877-923-6779) help applicants search through hundreds of private and public prescription discount programs, including those offered by pharmaceutical companies and the new Medicare drug discount card. The program also allows Washingtonians to apply for the programs.

More than 1,800 medications –– virtually everything imaginable, said RxHelp spokesman Todd Myers –– are available for free or at greatly reduced prices for qualified applicants through about 275 plans, officials said. There is no charge to apply.

A user-friendly process allows prospective program clients to learn on-line how they might qualify. By phone, inquiries are readily answered in English or Spanish, Myers told the Mirror editorial board.

Epilepsy Foundation Northwest refers its clients to RxHelp when they need help obtaining prescriptions, Neier said as an example of how patients get in touch with the program.

More than 700,000 Washington residents don’t have medical insurance or are underinsured, according to RxHelp officials.

RxHelp for Washington is a partnership of statewide organizations and national pharmaceutical companies, including Alzheimer’s Association, American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, American Parkinson Disease Association’s Washington chapter, American Lung Association of Washington, Amgen, Aradia Women’s Health Center, Arthritis Foundation’s Washington-Alaska chapter, Association of Washington Business, Asthma and Allergy Foundation, Callaway Gardens Retirement Inn, Catholic Family and Child Service, Childhaven, Communidades Latina del NW, El Centro de la Raza, Epilepsy Foundation Northwest, KDNA Radio, League of Women Voters of Seattle, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Washington-Alaska chapter, NAMI, National Multiple Sclerosis Society and Paralyzed Veterans of America.

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