New program offers discounts on drugs

Several towns in the region are turning to a new discount card program that is designed to help uninsured and underinsured residents receive discounts on their prescription drugs.

The program was introduced in July by the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, a statewide association of towns and cities. CCM said it offers its member towns and participating residents a place in the program for free.

Savings for individuals average about 45 percent on prescriptions that are not covered by insurance, according to CCM. The program has been implemented in Griswold and Old Saybrook and was adopted a week ago by the Board of Selectmen in Old Lyme.

"For a family that's already struggling and they have to take medications … why wouldn't we do this?" Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder said. "It's an opportunity for the people who need it the most to have some sort of savings."

To establish the program, CCM partnered with ProAct Inc., a discount card provider that negotiates discounts with participating pharmacies. The idea is to drive up the volume of prescription drugs being purchased to make it a benefit for the pharmacies. CVS, Rite Aid and Stop & Shop are among the pharmacies that participate.

The discount cards are mailed by ProAct to all residents in participating towns. The cards incorporate each respective town seal as a reminder it has been endorsed by the town. There are no forms to fill out and there are no restrictions based on age, income or existing health coverage, according to CCM.

CCM Executive Director and CEO Jim Finley said the idea originated after CCM staff recognized a similar program had been implemented in New York. In this state, Coventry, Durham, East Windsor, Simsbury and Tolland are among the towns that have already signed on for the program.

Norwich and Lyme are among towns locally that are in discussions to adopt the program, according to Gina Calabro, the CCM director of member services and marketing. CCM is also in talks with about 40 other towns.

"It works for the pharmacies and the manufacturers and it ends up working for the residents of our municipalities," Finley said.

The discount card program covers all prescription medications and some pet prescriptions. It also helps with discounts on medical services that include vision, hearing and LASIK laser eye surgery.

CCM said that nearly 360,000 people - more than 10 percent of the state's residents - lack health insurance and prescription plans and another 800,000 people are underinsured. For more information on the discount card program, visit www.ctrxdiscountcard.com.

jeff.johnson@theday.com

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