(Oklahoma City) Thousands of Oklahoma senior citizens could get a break on prescription drug costs under a bill approved by the State Senate on Wednesday, according to the measure's author, Senator Brad Henry.
HB 2605 by Sen. Henry (D-Shawnee) and Rep. Ron Kirby (D-Lawton) is designed to give seniors better access to more affordable prescription drugs by linking them to special discount programs offered through government entities and pharmaceutical manufacturers.
"Without question, one of the biggest concerns among senior citizens today is the high cost of prescription drugs. Sadly, costs are so high in some cases that seniors actually have to choose between filling their prescriptions and paying their bills. This legislation won't make that problem disappear completely, but it will go a long way to helping many elderly Oklahomans get a much-needed break on their prescription bills," said Sen. Henry.
HB 2605 would create the Oklahoma Pharmacy Connection Program. Under the program, senior citizens would be able to call a hotline maintained by the Department of Human Services to determine what prescription drug assistance programs, private and public, are available to them. The service would help enroll elderly Oklahomans in assistance programs that provide prescription drugs at a cheaper cost.
"There are many programs out there that offer discounted prescription drugs, but unfortunately, only a fraction of the eligible seniors take advantage of them. This program will help put those people in touch with the programs and get them the cost breaks that they deserve. The hotline will help create a one-stop shop of sorts and break down the barriers that prevent seniors from getting affordable prescription drugs," said Sen. Henry.
The legislation would also create a new council of private citizens, public officials and professional stakeholders to help oversee the program. The panel will be charged with keeping track of available discount drugs and monitoring the effectiveness of efforts to enroll seniors in the programs in question.
HB 2605 was approved unanimously by both the House and Senate. It now awaits the signature of Governor Keating.