Re: “Maine Voices: Older Mainers deserve relief from high prescription drug costs” (April 23):

I offer additional remarks about the cost of prescription medicines from the perspective of someone who has been addressing this issue for 20 years. Maine Sen. Troy Jackson, long dedicated to making prescription drugs more affordable, and coauthor Noël Bonam of AARP Maine clearly described a problem too often experienced by vulnerable Mainers.

Until lawmakers find an effective solution, immediate relief is available for many Mainers who qualify for free or low-cost drugs from a variety of public and private programs. Medicare beneficiaries, for example, may qualify for a low-income subsidy that covers some or all out-of-pocket drug expenses. Patient assistance programs and copay foundations cover increasingly unaffordable deductibles, copays and coinsurance, sometimes even for insured individuals with significant incomes but extraordinary drug expenses.

Identifying and then applying to the most appropriate sources of help is, understandably, too burdensome and time-consuming for most clinicians themselves. Hospitals throughout the state have, therefore, established prescription assistance and medication access programs that manage this process for them. They’re more common in southern Maine; few northern Maine facilities have recognized their value. But even existing resources are too little known by patients or by practitioners, who remain unaware of options for patients who can’t obtain the meds they prescribe.

To enhance personal and community health and to lessen avoidable hospitalizations and ER visits, nonprofit MedHelp Maine, truly without an ulterior motive, remains available to provide hospitals with free guidance in prescription assistance program startup.

Martha Morrison
founder and director, MedHelp Maine
West Newfield

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