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Cumberland Program Helping Seniors Afford Prescription Drugs

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FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — Senior citizens in Cumberland County are getting some relief from the high cost of prescription drugs.

They are applying to the county's new

Medication Access Program

, a service for those who cannot afford private health insurance and who do not qualify for Medicaid.

Norma Norris, 83, takes nine prescription medications every day. The drugs cost her close to $4,000 a year -- a third of her total income.

"If prescriptions keep going up, I won't have enough so I'll have to determine whether I'll have food or buy prescriptions," she said.

Donna Consentino, the program's pharmacy supervisor, said there are more than 26,000 people in Cumberland County who cannot afford private health insurance. She said many of those people are senior citizens.

"There's a lot of senior citizens that are not taking their medications because they can't afford them," Consentino said.

It is a problem that impacts seniors across the state.According to the North Carolina Senior Prescription Drug Assistance Program, of the 969,000 seniors citizens in the state, more than half have no prescription drug coverage.

Pharmacists said anyone who needs drug coverage can stop by the office to learn if they are eligible for the the Medication Access Program. It is located on the first floor of the Cumberland County Health Department.

The program will be funded mostly by grants for the next three years. After that, the service will rely mostly on community support.


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