KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

In Bad Economy, U.S. Counties Join Rx Discount Plan

The AP/BusinessWeek reports that "as the recession continues and jobless ranks swell, more U.S. counties are joining a prescription drug discount program that has saved uninsured and underinsured residents $179 million on medications since 2005, the National Association of Counties says."  The counties' organization, "which runs the program with pharmacy giant CVS Caremark Corp.," said "about 60,000 U.S. pharmacies nationwide, or 90 percent of the total, accept the cards" for drug discounts. 

In addition to the uninsured, "people with prescription coverage can use them for drug purchases not covered by their insurance."  Brand name and generic drugs are both discounted, as are "some prescriptions for pets."  "Savings can be 50 percent on some generic drug purchases, but the National Association of Counties says the average is 23 percent."

The organization says that "neither counties nor the National Association of Counties receives revenue from the cards." But the number of counties using them has increased significantly this year.  The program began in 2004 with a "17-county pilot program." The number "grew steadily, then accelerated in 2008."  "After adding about 200 new counties a year in 2006 and 2007, 300 counties nationwide signed up for the program in 2008," Andre Goldschmidt, "the marketing membership director for the counties group" told the AP (Miller, 5/28). 

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