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Seniors look for help with prescriptions

By By Georgia E. Frye / staff writer
May 29, 2003
Cora Brown said she spends more than $900 a month on prescription medication, substantially more than the $600 income she receives during the same period.
So the resident from nearby Melvin, Ala., joined about 50 other senior citizens in Meridian on Wednesday to hear U.S. Rep. Chip Pickering talk about congressional efforts to curb high drug costs for the elderly.
Pickering spoke at Union Station during a health expo he and Rush Health Systems sponsored. He said he backs a Medicare reform bill to make prescription drug cards more available for seniors.
Pickering discussed how Congress can help senior citizens by reforming Medicare, a federal medical program for the elderly.
Pickering said the U.S. House Commerce and Energy Committee is working on a prescription reform bill. He said he expects the bill to pass the U.S. House in July and possibly the U.S. Senate by the end of the year.
That plan would provide $400 million for prescription drugs. And, he said, it would "give seniors dependable, reliable resources for prescriptions."
Pickering also invited representatives of pharmaceutical companies to discuss options already available for senior citizens including the Together Rx program.
Together Rx is designed to provide an interim solution for seniors who can't afford medication.
The program is a collaboration of seven pharmaceutical companies. It provides a prescription card for individuals who earn $28,000 a year or less and couples who earn $38,000 a year or less.
Heller said 7 million to 10 million senior citizens are eligible for the Together Rx prescription card, but only 800,000 use the service. Of those, Heller said, 12,000 are from Mississippi.
Pfizer Inc., maker of such drugs as Zyrtec and Viagra, also offers a $15 prescription drug card for seniors who can't afford medication. To be eligible, an individual must earn less than $18,000 a year or a couple must earn less than $24,000.
Natalie Britt, a representative for Pfizer, said 2,000 Mississippians used the service last year.
Pickering said applications for these services are available at most doctor's offices, senior citizen centers and libraries. He also said those who are interested should call his Meridian office at 693-6681.

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