Lee considers discount drug cards

TUPELO – Uninsured or underinsured Lee County residents could soon save an average of 22 percent on prescription drugs if officials here join a national program.
The Lee County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Monday to participate in the program but first asked the county attorney to review and approve the contract.
That could happen within the next month, and the program could start as early as October.
Offered by the National Association of Counties through a partnership with Caremark, the Prescription Discount Card program is free and available to all residents. It is not health insurance; it simply provides discounts on prescription medication at participating pharmacies.
According to NACo, the average savings is 22 percent.
“It’s a good deal,” said District 2 Supervisor Bobby Smith.
If it joins, Lee County will be the first in Northeast Mississippi and the 17th statewide to offer the cards.
The success of the program varies, depending on the amount of publicity done by each government, said Lee County Administrator Sean Thompson.
Hinds County, which hasn’t actively advertised its program, has seven cardholders, he said. DeSoto County has 344 and gets the word out through several sources.
“It has been very successful,” said Vanessa Lynchard, director of DeSoto County’s Administrative Services.
Lynchard said the county makes the cards available at each of its government buildings, as well as through dozens of pharmacies, schools and libraries.
In the month of June, Lynchard said, DeSoto County cardholders purchased $31,025 worth of prescriptions and saved $7,824.
“We have one woman on Medicare who is on a fixed income and has six prescription medicines,” Lynchard said. “Of her six, she saved money on three of them using this program. But you’ve got to be a wise shopper and find out where you get the best deals.”
The program is geared toward the uninsured and underinsured, but even residents with full health insurance can use the cards when their plans fail to cover certain drugs or don’t provide good discounts.
Taxpayers pay nothing for their counties to participate in the program, said District 1 Supervisor Phil Morgan.
“Our sole duty is to promote it,” Morgan said. “There is no revenue for the county and no expense to the county.”
It’s unclear how the cards would be distributed in Lee County, but supervisors said they could be printed on home computers from the NACo Web site.
Contact Emily Le Coz at (662) 678-1588 or emily.lecoz@djournal.com.

Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal