Bismarck, ND - Insurance Commissioner Jim Poolman announced today the availability of "Prescription Connection for North Dakota," a prescription assistance program designed to help low-income families and individuals obtain reduced-cost or free prescription drugs through participating pharmaceutical manufacturers. The creation of this program was approved earlier this year by legislation passed during the 2003 Legislative Session.
Poolman said, "Many are aware of the rising costs of prescription drugs, but not enough people are aware that medications can be obtained at discount prices by those who meet eligibility requirements. Our objective is to reach as many needy families as possible and to help them obtain the benefits for which they are eligible."
As part of the program, the Insurance Department has begun recruiting, training, and coordinating a statewide network of volunteers to help low-income individuals and families apply for the drug discounts. The Department has also developed a website, www.rxconnectnd.org, through which individuals can apply for the drug discounts. Additionally, information and assistance can be obtained by calling the Prescription Connection toll free number at 1.888.575.6611.
According to Poolman, pharmaceutical companies have provided prescription drug discounts for years, but the eligibility requirements vary from company-to-company and the application processes can be confusing which can deter people from even participating in the programs. "Prescription Connection for North Dakota is intended to simplify the application process and provide better access through online and direct personal assistance to individuals who would like to apply," Poolman said. "These programs are out there for the benefit of our consumers--we want to make sure we are maximizing use of the program to save North Dakotans much needed money on their medications. If people feel they need the help, they should definitely be contacting us."
Representative Bill Devlin, the lead sponsor of the legislation said, "There is no question that this is a great program for the citizens of North Dakota-I estimate they will be able to save millions of dollars on their medications. I really want to commend Commissioner Poolman and his staff for the effort that they have put forward to make this program a success."
Commissioner Poolman also said, "This program will effectively marshal private and public resources towards a common goal-saving money for needy prescription drug consumers." Poolman elaborated by saying, "This is not your typical 'government program.' We will use banks of volunteers that will work with private industry, local foundations, and other entities who will collaborate with the Insurance Department to provide assistance to the people in North Dakota who most need it. It is a different way of doing things. I am certain that this program effectively leverages all the resources that are available to us."
The Dakota Medical Foundation, which is based in Fargo, has provided grant dollars to the South Central Adult Services to expand the volunteer base that can connect North Dakotans to free and reduced cost prescription drugs. Pat Traynor, President of Dakota Medical Foundation said "We are excited about the prospects of working in unison with Commissioner Poolman and the Insurance Department to ensure that North Dakotans who need help paying for their prescriptions get the assistance they need. This is a great example of a public-private partnership that can work for consumers."
Poolman estimates that thousands of North Dakota consumers can benefit from this program, and encourages anyone who thinks they may qualify to contact the Insurance Department or utilize the website. "These programs are here to benefit consumers, and it is our job to make it as easy as possible to use them," Poolman said. "I am aware of how difficult it is for people to make ends meet these days. In the end, I want to make sure that we have helped as many eligible individuals as possible save money on their prescriptions."