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County leaders launch prescription discounts for under-insured

by jmaloni
Mon, Jun 6th 2011 10:00 pm

Smolinski: 'Significant savings' for discount card users

Uninsured and under-insured county residents will now have access to steep discounts on prescription medications, thanks to a new prescription discount card endorsed by the Niagara County Legislature and being mailed to county residents.

The ProAct Prescription Drug Discount Card Program, already in use in several New York state counties, provides county residents discounts on prescriptions at virtually every pharmacy in the county, along with more than 55,000 pharmacies nationwide, including participating pharmacies in neighboring counties. Just by presenting their pharmacist with the discount card, county residents will see 10 to 20 percent savings on name-brand drugs and 20 to 70 percent discounts on generic drugs.

Despite these benefits, however, the program comes without any cost to taxpayers.

"This move makes very clear where Niagara County stands with regard to the high costs of health care," said County Legislator Pete Smolinski, R-North Tonawanda, who chairs the Legislature's Community Services Committee. "We understand the pressures on middle-class and lower-middle-class families, and we want to provide a service for them."

Smolinski said that the ProAct card had been introduced to the county through its membership in the New York State Association of Counties. Based on positive experiences by several other counties, including neighboring Erie County, county lawmakers had decided to make a go of the program.

"This will help people - many of them middle class - stretch their family budgets by providing deep discounts for the prescriptions they've come to rely on," Smolinski said. "By partnering with the private sector - indeed, by partnering with virtually every pharmacy in our county - we can ensure that uninsured families have an avenue to lowering their medical costs, and we doing so at no cost to our taxpayers."

ProAct, the private company that arranges the discounts, is mailing out nearly 100,000 discount cards to Niagara County households. County lawmakers and the Legislature Office at the Niagara County Courthouse, 175 Hawley St., will also have extra copies of the cards should families miss the mailings.

Helping Smolinski unveil the card were Legislator Tony Nemi, I-Lockport, and Legislature Chairman William L. Ross, C-Wheatfield, both of whom had been actively involved in designing Niagara County's ProAct program.

"The Niagara County Legislature is always looking for ways to offer savings for county residents," Ross said. "It's not only an average savings of 50 percent that residents will benefit from, but we did this at no cost to county taxpayers."

Ross warned county residents against throwing out the card, noting its potential savings were substantial.

"Our sister county, Erie County, adopted this a year ago, and after a year of service, they have had 50,000 prescriptions filled at up to 50 percent savings," Ross said. "In fact, the average savings for Erie County residents has been $33.26 - a great savings."

Smolinski also pointed to one often-overlooked benefit of the card as a reason why even well insured families may want to hang onto it when it arrives in the mail.

"ProAct's discounts also apply to pet medications," Smolinski said. "As someone who has great affection for his own cats, I understand why families want to provide the best possible veterinary care for their pets. I'm pleased that ProAct offers such an advantage."

Smolinski said he believe county lawmakers had done the right thing in rolling out the discount cards.

"For those without insurance, either because of a job loss, or working too few hours, or whatever other factors impact their lives, this will be a Godsend," Smolinski said. "Keeping costs down for Niagara County's families is an important objective of this government, and we're pleased to be rolling out this program."

For more information, call the ProAct Help Desk at 877-776-2285 or visit www.NYRxDiscountCard.com.

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