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Washington County will join prescription discount program

Washington County this summer will sign on to a national program that offers discounted prescription drugs to the uninsured.

The discount prescription drug program run by the National Association of Counties will offer discounted medications to uninsured residents or if a drug isn't covered by insurance - like some some patients under Medicare Part D -- as well as pet medications. County commissioners OK'd the move at a meeting last week.

The program is free for Washington County residents to use and won't cost the county to participate in. County officials say the discount card could save participants an average of 24 percent on prescriptions.

Major chain pharmacies like Walgreens, CVS, Target and Walmart participate in the discount program, said Lowell Johnson, director of the Washington County Department of Public Health and Environment, and the county may receive $1 per transaction in marketing reimbursement under an agreement that will be struck with the Association.

"Counties are well-positioned to understand who the users might be," Johnson told the Washington County Board at a meeting last week. The county's existing relationship with service providers means Washington County health officials can more easily "get cards into the hands of those who need them."

Johnson said the county would submit enrollment materials to the National Association of Counties this month. Implementation of the program is expected to take roughly 10 weeks.

More than 1,400 counties nationwide participate in the 7-year-old program that is administered by the National Association of Counties and CVS Caremark, including 40 Minnesota counties, according to the county.

Cards will be mailed directly to pharmacies for display and may be available online. Washington County will provide more information on the program when it launches this summer, officials said recently.