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Help with meds is on board drug bus

BROOKSVILLE — Montel Williams won't be here next week, but the tour bus the popular talk show host has helped make famous will be making its first-ever stop in Brooksville.

On Tuesday, the "Help is Here Express" will be at the Nature Coast Community Health Center on Main Street. The bus, along with representatives from the Partnership for Prescription Assistance, will be in town to help save residents money on their prescriptions.

Those who qualify will have access to 475 patient assistance programs, which offer prescriptions for free or at a minimal cost.

"This is an opportunity for our residents to learn about programs that will provide them income, literally," said Jean Rags, Hernando County Health and Human Services director. "If they don't have to pay for medicines, we're putting money back in their pocket to pay for things like rent, utilities and insurance."

Since 2005, the prescription assistance group has helped millions of Americans save money on their medicines, said spokeswoman Kaelan Hollon.

The bus was not specifically invited to Hernando County but travels around the country, stopping in towns along the way. So far, it has visited more than 1,500 communities.

While many pharmaceutical companies have offered discount drug programs for years, most people didn't know about them or were put off by the required paperwork, Hollon said. The partnership was created as a way for patients to one-stop shop.

On the bus, residents can speak to trained specialists who will walk them through the programs. After basic questions that cover income, what kind of medications a person takes, what kind of insurance they have, if any, then a resident will have an idea if they qualify for any of the programs.

Those who come to the bus next week are urged to bring a list of their medications, or the containers they come in, for accuracy.

While some people who have insurance, or are covered by Medicare or Medicaid, might not qualify for some of the programs, Rags urges anyone who pays for prescription medications to stop by the health department next week.

"We have people out there who skip their meds or decide to take one pill every other day to conserve them," she said. "If a doctor prescribes medications that need to be taken at a certain dosage and time, then they need to have that medication. We hope residents will take advantage of (the bus) being here."

Chandra Broadwater can be reached at cbroadwater@sptimes.com, or (352) 848-1432.

>>fast facts

Bring questions

If you are uninsured and struggling to pay for prescription medicines, the Partnership for Prescription Assistance may be able to help.

The "Help is Here Express" bus will be at the Nature Coast Community Health Center on March 25, from 10 a.m. to noon. The health center is at 300 S Main St., Brooksville. Make sure to bring a list of your medications.

For information, call: (888)4PPA-NOW, or visit: http://www.pparx.org

Help with meds is on board drug bus 03/21/08 [Last modified: Monday, March 24, 2008 4:18pm]

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