Schenectady County

Schenectady County looks at drug costs, lead

Schenectady County is joining the growing ranks of municipalities in the state participating in a pr

Schenectady County is joining the growing ranks of municipalities in the state participating in a program that helps people with little or no insurance save money on their prescription drugs.

The county Legislature discussed the program, called ProAct, Monday night during its committee meeting. Legislators are scheduled to vote on joining the program Oct. 14.

ProAct is not health insurance, but is instead a program that offers a discount of up to 20 percent on all brand medicine and up to 50 percent on all generic medicine, according to the New York State Association of Counties. The association’s board of directors has endorsed the program, which is in effect in 11 other counties in the state. Kinney Drugs started the pharmacy benefit program three years ago.

Anyone can participate in the program, but people with little or no insurance and residents with Medicare Part D will save the most, said County Manager Kathleen Rooney.

The county’s only involvement is to work with ProAct to promote the free program to residents, officials said. “There is no cost to the county or the participant,” Rooney said. Pharmacies absorb the discount but expect to see an increase in sales from additional traffic.

ProAct officials said Schenectady County, according to census data, has 13,585 children and adults with no insurance.

ProAct works with a major chain pharmacies to offer the program, Rooney said. Counties participate in the program for free. ProAct administers the program, creates the cards and mails them to residents, she said.

The program will also cover pet medications, officials said.

Amanda Nestor, public health administrator for the Onondaga Department of Health, called the program “a no-brainer that makes sense.”

Onondaga joined the program a year ago and participants have saved more than $100,000 on prescription drug costs, Nestor said. ProAct provides Onondaga County with periodic reports, she said.

Nestor said ProAct has sent cards to more than 120,000 Onondaga County residents in the last year. She said they also help publicize it.

Nestor said she has received no complaints about the program since Onondaga County launched it last October. “The program can be confusing to the public. They won’t trust it at first. People thought it was a scam,” she said.

Philip Church, Oswego County administrator, said his county offered the program in February. “Everyone is fairly well pleased with it,” he said.

A recent report showed participants saved on average $17.55, or 35 percent, per prescription, Church said. “It is helping people.” The number of claims has increased each month with 2,547 reported in September on 1,157 cards, Church said.

Oswego County launched a publicity campaign with ProAct’s help to make sure people did not think the county was spending taxpayer dollars on the program.

“One of our fears was that people would think it was a public assistance program paid for by tax dollars. As long as the publicity is done correctly, people don’t have that false impression,” he said.

ProAct officials said the program is anonymous, in that neither they nor the participating county know who is using the benefit card.

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