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Chatham Council on Aging hosts community forum about helping pay for prescription drugs

Posted Thursday, May 28, 2009

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Siler City, NC - The Chatham County Council on Aging is sponsoring a community forum for local seniors to identify resources to help pay for prescription drugs. The forum will be held Thursday, May 28, noon to 2 pm at the Western Chatham Senior Center in Siler City.



The forum is specifically designed for senior residents who: have a limited monthly income; qualify for Medicare; and pay more than $5 on average for individual prescriptions. Reservations for the forum are required.

"We also encourage community groups to send representatives to the forum to get the word out throughout Chatham County so that residents know these resources are available to help them," said Angel Dennison, executive director of the Chatham County Council on Aging.

A grant from the NC Seniors Health Insurance Information Program (called SHIPP) allows the Council to arrange appointments for seniors to meet with experts in Medicare to receive enrollment and individual benefits counseling.

"We find that, too often, patients are treated and prescriptions written, and the treatment process stops there without helping the patients identify resources to pay for the medications. Seniors often do not have a clear understanding about options available in the community and through Medicare to provide needed prescriptions," said Dennison.

She noted that this is a particularly important issue in today's economy. "When people have to choose between heating their homes, buying food and buying medicine, medicine often comes last. This means that they may take only half of their medication or do without it completely, especially when many medications are expensive."

When people fail to maintain their health adequately through prescribed medications, it is costly to the patient and the health care system. "Failure to take these medications as prescribed is a leading cause of re-admission to hospitals and development of long-term health problems," Dennison said.

"Our goal is to provide counseling and monetary resources to ensure that every Chatham resident who qualifies for Medicare maintains their health to the maximum benefit possible."

The coordination of benefits provided through Medicare and services provided through the Administration on Aging, such as those delivered through community service providers, are at the forefront of health care reform, according to Dennison.

The volunteer-driven SHIIP program assists North Carolina residents in applying for Medicare and supplemental programs. "We are very fortunate to have a group of well trained, committed volunteers who have helped hundreds of people not only apply for Medicare, but also understand the importance and long-term benefits of Medicare," she added.

Dennison reminds residents that the Council on Aging has had a long-term relationship with SHIIP. "As the population over 65 increases, it is important for Chatham residents to know that there is a local agency with expertise in Medicare enrollment and benefits, and that we are only a local phone call away."

The forum will help the Council on Aging redefine its outreach efforts and pinpoint areas of greatest need. It will also educate community leaders about the benefits of Medicare as well as the Council on Aging's emergency assistance fund, Chatham CARES Community Pharmacy and other major resources within the county.

Commissioner Carl Thompson, the commissioners' liaison for aging services, will be at the forum as well as representatives from SHIIP, the County Department of Social Services and the Council on Aging. Many consumers and community leaders have been invited to participate.

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