12/18/08 — County looks at drug cards to help area residents

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County looks at drug cards to help area residents

By Steve Herring
Published in News on December 18, 2008 1:46 PM

Wayne County residents soon could be saving up to 20 percent on their prescription drugs should county commissioners agree to participate in the Prescription Drug Discount Card program sponsored by the National Association of Counties.

Locally, Pitt and Wilson counties already participate in the program.

There is no cost to the county to join, and any citizen in Wayne County can join at no cost as well, County Manager Lee Smith told commissioners during their Tuesday morning session.

"There are people out there who are out of work and have no benefits, but are not eligible for county services," he said.

Tuesday's brief presentation was for information only and no action was taken. However, County Attorney Borden Parker was asked to look into the program.

Board action could come as early as the commissioners' Jan. 6 meeting.

Smith said Wayne County is one of only about 15 counties in the state that have yet to sign up for the program. Up to 18 million people nationwide are participating in it, he said.

According to the association, the four-year-old program was designed for uninsured and underinsured county residents.

Created in late 2004 as a 17-county pilot program in partnership with CVS Caremark to provide benefits to the association's member counties, it was made available nationwide in May 2005.

According to the association, more than 59,000 retail pharmacies, including major pharmacy chains such as CVS, Rite Aid, Walgreens and Wal-Mart, accept the discount card as do many independently owned and operated pharmacies.

All commonly prescribed prescription medications, including pet medications, are eligible for a discount.

The discount card can save an average of 20 percent off the full retail cost of prescription medication.

According to the association's Web site, advantages of the program include:

-- It is easy to participate. There are no enrollment fees, no forms to fill out, no age or income requirements and no medical condition restrictions. The entire family is covered with just one card and virtually all commonly prescribed medications are covered.

-- There is no cost to the county, county taxpayers, or consumers to participate. Caremark negotiates the discounts directly with participating pharmacies. Neither NACo nor the participating counties receive any revenue from the program.

-- Everyone is eligible. The discount cards are provided free to residents living in participating NACo member counties across the country.

-- Consumers always receive the lowest retail price. On occasion, pharmacies will price a particular medication lower than the discount rate available with the NACo card. If that occurs, consumers will receive the lower price.

Local participating companies include: Carolina Compounding Center, CVS Pharmacy, Food Lion Pharmacy at Pikeville, Fremont Pharmacy, Goldsboro Drug Co., Raper Drugs, Inc., Rite Aid Pharmacy, Southeast Family Pharmacy, Southeastern Medical Oncology, Target Pharmacy, Walgreens, Wal-Mart Pharmacy, Wayne Pharmacy and Wayne Urological Associates.