Mode:  

Free Prescription Drug Program Gets Bigger

West Virginia Will Have Nation’s Largest Charitable Pharmacy Program

Thursday, July 16, 2009

CHARLESTON – Gov. Joe Manchin announced today that more than 10,000 working West Virginians soon will be automatically eligible for West Virginia Rx, which can provide them with free brand-name prescription drugs.

Beginning Sept. 1, about 5,000 people in the Community Access Program of the Partners in Health Network and about the same number of people in Charleston Area Medical Center’s charity care health program will be qualified automatically for participation in West Virginia Rx.

"The additional participants would increase the size of the West Virginia Rx program by more than 400 percent," Manchin said. "That will make it the largest charitable pharmacy program in operation in the country. This will mean, in addition to having a way to get needed hospital care, that these individuals also will be able to get needed brand-name medications at no cost without additional paperwork or red tape."

West Virginia is the first state in the country to coordinate hospital charity care programs with its charitable pharmacy program. The goal is to extend this model to other hospital charity programs over the next several months.

"Partners in Health is a rural-based network of 13 hospitals, seven community health centers and one health department, and the issue of uninsured people is greater in rural areas than in urban areas," Dave Sotak, executive director of New River Health Association based in Scarbro, a member of the Partners in Health Network, said. "West Virginia Rx provides a method to give more help to the people we serve."

CAMC is one of the largest providers of charity care in the state, so making participants in its charity care program automatically eligible for West Virginia Rx is a good starting point. Over the next several months, the goal is to extend that model to other hospital charity care programs.

"CAMC accounts for more than 25 percent of the charity care provided by West Virginia’s acute care hospitals," David Ramsey, CAMC’s chief executive officer, said. "Anytime we help those we serve it helps us to fulfill our mission."

Among eligibility requirements for the Community Access Program of the Partners in Health Network and CAMC’s charity care program is family income at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. The family income requirement for West Virginia Rx is the same, so patients in the other programs can be made automatically eligible for West Virginia Rx’s free prescription drug program.

Gov. Manchin also announced the launch of West Virginia Rx’s new point- of-entry Web site, www.WVRX.org, which makes it easier for individuals to sign up for the program. The site provides an explanation of benefits for participants and a tool for physicians to use when they have eligible patients without prescription drug coverage. For those without computer access, information is available by phone toll-free at 1-877-388-WVRX (9879).

This weekend, Gov. Manchin plans to share information about West Virginia Rx with his colleagues at the National Governors Association’s summer meeting and propose it as a model other states could use. Among the facts he will share with them about West Virginia Rx are:

  • Pharmaceutical companies provide millions of dollars worth of brand- name drugs to the program at no cost.
  • West Virginia Rx helps keep people healthy, because when individuals have needed medicine, emergency room use is reduced by 41 percent.
  • Uninsured working West Virginians are able to better manage their illnesses and stay on the job.
  • Every dollar spent on West Virginia Rx has a $37 return on investment.

"Federal health reform may provide a comprehensive solution to our health care needs sometime in the future," Manchin said. "However, in the interim, uninsured, working West Virginians need help now. West Virginia Rx provides immediate assistance."

West Virginia Rx is made possible by the support of donated medications from several pharmaceutical manufacturers including: Abbott Laboratories, Inc.; Alcon Laboratories, Inc.; Astra-Zeneca Pharmaceuticals, LP; Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies; King Pharmaceuticals; Eli Lilly & Company; Merck & Company, Inc.; Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation; and Sanofi-aventis.

Founding funders for West Virginia Rx include: the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation; Heinz Family Philanthropies; the Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation; the West Virginia Attorney General’s Office; the Rite Aid Foundation; Chesapeake Appalachia, LLC; Chesapeake Energy Corporation; and CVS Foundation.

Return to Press Releases

West Virginia Will Have Nation’s Largest Charitable Pharmacy Program

Thursday, July 16, 2009

CHARLESTON – Gov. Joe Manchin announced today that more than 10,000 working West Virginians soon will be automatically eligible for West Virginia Rx, which can provide them with free brand-name prescription drugs.

Beginning Sept. 1, about 5,000 people in the Community Access Program of the Partners in Health Network and about the same number of people in Charleston Area Medical Center’s charity care health program will be qualified automatically for participation in West Virginia Rx.

"The additional participants would increase the size of the West Virginia Rx program by more than 400 percent," Manchin said. "That will make it the largest charitable pharmacy program in operation in the country. This will mean, in addition to having a way to get needed hospital care, that these individuals also will be able to get needed brand-name medications at no cost without additional paperwork or red tape."

West Virginia is the first state in the country to coordinate hospital charity care programs with its charitable pharmacy program. The goal is to extend this model to other hospital charity programs over the next several months.

"Partners in Health is a rural-based network of 13 hospitals, seven community health centers and one health department, and the issue of uninsured people is greater in rural areas than in urban areas," Dave Sotak, executive director of New River Health Association based in Scarbro, a member of the Partners in Health Network, said. "West Virginia Rx provides a method to give more help to the people we serve."

CAMC is one of the largest providers of charity care in the state, so making participants in its charity care program automatically eligible for West Virginia Rx is a good starting point. Over the next several months, the goal is to extend that model to other hospital charity care programs.

"CAMC accounts for more than 25 percent of the charity care provided by West Virginia’s acute care hospitals," David Ramsey, CAMC’s chief executive officer, said. "Anytime we help those we serve it helps us to fulfill our mission."

Among eligibility requirements for the Community Access Program of the Partners in Health Network and CAMC’s charity care program is family income at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. The family income requirement for West Virginia Rx is the same, so patients in the other programs can be made automatically eligible for West Virginia Rx’s free prescription drug program.

Gov. Manchin also announced the launch of West Virginia Rx’s new point- of-entry Web site, www.WVRX.org, which makes it easier for individuals to sign up for the program. The site provides an explanation of benefits for participants and a tool for physicians to use when they have eligible patients without prescription drug coverage. For those without computer access, information is available by phone toll-free at 1-877-388-WVRX (9879).

This weekend, Gov. Manchin plans to share information about West Virginia Rx with his colleagues at the National Governors Association’s summer meeting and propose it as a model other states could use. Among the facts he will share with them about West Virginia Rx are:

  • Pharmaceutical companies provide millions of dollars worth of brand- name drugs to the program at no cost.
  • West Virginia Rx helps keep people healthy, because when individuals have needed medicine, emergency room use is reduced by 41 percent.
  • Uninsured working West Virginians are able to better manage their illnesses and stay on the job.
  • Every dollar spent on West Virginia Rx has a $37 return on investment.

"Federal health reform may provide a comprehensive solution to our health care needs sometime in the future," Manchin said. "However, in the interim, uninsured, working West Virginians need help now. West Virginia Rx provides immediate assistance."

West Virginia Rx is made possible by the support of donated medications from several pharmaceutical manufacturers including: Abbott Laboratories, Inc.; Alcon Laboratories, Inc.; Astra-Zeneca Pharmaceuticals, LP; Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies; King Pharmaceuticals; Eli Lilly & Company; Merck & Company, Inc.; Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation; and Sanofi-aventis.

Founding funders for West Virginia Rx include: the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation; Heinz Family Philanthropies; the Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation; the West Virginia Attorney General’s Office; the Rite Aid Foundation; Chesapeake Appalachia, LLC; Chesapeake Energy Corporation; and CVS Foundation.

Return to Press Releases