Article by SWVA Today – 10/11/2017
The Mel Leaman Free Clinic is one of the first free clinics in Virginia to benefit from a program that helps patients get access to free or low-cost medications.
Last week, Rx Partnership, a public-private partnership established to increase access to medication for Virginians in need, announced that it had expanded its Access to Medication Program (AMP) to provide generic medications to patients at the Marion clinic.
However, the program got under way at the clinic July 1 and is now helping pave the way for other free clinics. AMP already is available in Williamsburg and Fredericksburg and plans to partner with other clinics statewide.
AMP helps fulfill Rx Partnership’s mission to help vulnerable Virginians access lifesaving medications that treat chronic health conditions such as asthma, diabetes, hypertension and GERD. The current AMP formulary includes 20 medications with 32 dosage strengths.
AMP program officials say it helps clinics and other facilities that serve the insured reduce their spending on medication and helps patients follow care providers’ medication orders. They point to an AARP statistic that says that 25 percent of prescriptions aren’t filled because people can’t afford them.
Rx Partnership uses group purchasing contracts to get medications for the best cost as well as accessing medications donated by pharmaceutical companies. AMP is co-located with an existing pharmacy to save operating costs. AMP ships directly to clinics, allowing them to educate patients about the drugs and preventing transportation problems that could prevent someone from getting a prescription filled.
To date, the organization has helped more than 72,000 low-income, uninsured Virginia patients receive more than 700,000 free prescriptions at a retail value of $177 million.
The program is funded in part by a $25,000 Dominion Energy Charitable Foundation grant.
“Rx Partnership created AMP to alleviate the financial burden that generic medications can create for both clinics and patients,” said Amy Yarcich, executive director of Rx Partnership. “With Dominion Energy’s assistance, we can be sure a patient is actually getting the medication they need to manage their chronic condition – something that results in better health outcomes for the patient and ensures the physician’s time can be focused on working with a patient on next steps for care.”
To be eligible for AMP, patients must be uninsured and have household incomes at or below 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level, which is $24,120 for an individual and $49,200 for a family of four.
Avery Cornett, who serves on the free clinic board and is a member of the Marion Town Council, attended a press event at the clinic Wednesday recognizing AMP.
He spoke of attending a statewide municipal leaders’ conference, where much discussion focused on the Affordable Care Act and its future. He observed that free clinics are going to become increasingly important to communities’ and individuals’ health care.
The Mel Leaman Free Clinic serves patients in Smyth, Grayson and Washington counties in Southwest Virginia.
In 2016, the clinic treated 660 unique patients through 2,726 patient visits. For more information, visithttp://melleamanfreeclinic.org.