MAHONING COUNTY Getting help with medicine discounts

Senior citizens will be able to get help applying for discounts on their prescription drugs.
YOUNGSTOWN -- Mahoning County commissioners are developing a plan they hope will ease the prescription pain felt by senior citizens.
The program, expected to be in place by late summer, will help senior citizens get discounts on prescriptions through the drug companies, said Joseph Caruso, special projects director.
"Basically, the county is acting as an advocate for our seniors to have access to these discounts," Caruso said.
The special projects division and the county Council On Aging are coordinating the project, which is based on similar efforts in place in Ashtabula and Trumbull counties.
Commissioner Ed Reese said the program is crucial because many large employers in the Mahoning Valley have gone bankrupt in recent years, leaving employees and retirees without medical benefits.
Help with applications
Caruso said major drug companies already have discount plans in place for senior citizens, but the application process is cumbersome, complex and confusing.
The county's plan is to have people in place who will assist seniors in completing the applications and gaining access to the discounts from the companies.
There will be several sites around the county for people to go to, each of which will be staffed by trained personnel and volunteers.
"We want to make this process as easy for our residents as it possibly can be," Caruso said.
Once an application is approved, the resident will begin receiving his or her medication through the mail. Reese pointed out that the program is only for prescriptions for chronic ailments.
Issue of concern
Caruso said there are about 45,000 county residents older than 65, which is about 20 percent of the county's population. A recent survey by the Council On Aging showed that health care is the issue that most concerns them.
"For many of these people, they have to make the daily choice of whether to buy food or buy their medicine," he said.
Caruso and Reese stressed that the program doesn't include money to buy medicine for residents. It only helps them buy their prescriptions at a lower cost.

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