In 2003, North Carolina created Medication Assistance Programs (MAPs) for people who are uninsured or on Medicaid or Medicare and who need help to buy medications they need to control chronic illnesses. The Health and Wellness Trust Fund awarded 23 grants totaling $8.3 million over three years. Later, more funding would be added to help seniors understand medication interactions and to add more MAP programs.
The Medication Assistance Program has been a success by almost any measure. MAP grantee sites provided more than $68.8 million worth of free medications to nearly 40,000 patients from January 2003 to December 2005, representing a 6-to-1 return on investment. More than 8,000 of these patients also received medication management (MM) services.
Offering medication to people who have chronic conditions helps save suffering and lives, and, of course, money.
Without medications, high blood pressure leads to stroke; high cholesterol leads to heart attacks; diabetes leads to renal failure, blindness and limb amputation; mental illness leads to suicide. It’s more expensive both financially and morally to deny medications to people who need them, yet that’s what’s about to happen unless we act.
Both the governor and the state House of Representatives agreed that MAP is important and their budgets included funding for it.
But the NC Senate decided that helping alleviate suffering wasn’t worth including in its budget, even though the program has demonstrated its worth.
During the next couple of days, the budget will be in reconciliation as the House and Senate hammer out differences. Here’s where we all come in: We need to contact members of the committee (listed below):
Co-Chairs: Sen. Peter S. Brunstetter (Forsyth), Sen. Neal Hunt (Wake,) Sen. Richard Stevens (Wake)
Vice Chairs: Sen. Tom Apodaca (Buncombe, Henderson, Polk), Sen. Linda Garrou (Forsyth)
Members: Sen. Harris Blake, Sen. Dan Blue, Sen. Andrew C. Brock, Sen. Harry Brown, Sen. Charlie S. Dannelly, Sen. Don East, Sen. Malcolm Graham, Sen. Kathy Harrington, Sen. Fletcher L. Hartsell, Jr., Sen. Brent Jackson, Sen. Ed Jones, Sen. Eleanor Kinnaird, Sen. Martin L. Nesbitt, Jr., Sen. Louis Pate, Sen. David Rouzer, Sen. Bob Rucho, Sen. Jerry W. Tillman,Sen. Tommy Tucker, Sen. Michael P. Walters.
Each of these senators can be contacted through http://www.ncleg.net/Senate/Senate.html.
We need to do this and we need to do this now.