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Tight Budget Forces Fayetteville To Eliminate Prescription Drug Plan

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FAYETTEVILLE — For the past year, the Fayetteville Health Department had given away more than 4,500 bottles as part of its free prescription drug program. Due to budget cutbacks, participants of the program are now out of luck.

James Baum takes four different medications everyday to control his diabetes. The 58-year-old got his pills for free at the Health Department.

This past year, the department's prescription program ran out of money eight months into the year. Because he lives on a fixed income, Baum went without pills for six weeks.

"My biggest thing is I lose my memory when I don't have my pills," Baum says. "By the time you pay rent and food, you haven't got anything left."

For the last three years, funding has never lasted. For the upcoming fiscal year, there is no money at all.

Janet Lindbloom, director of the Fayetteville Health Department, says when the county cut her budget by $700,000, the program had to go.

"The need is so tremendous, it's a huge problem," Lindbloom says. "For this particular year, it was either lose jobs that people are actually in or look at a program that we can postpone until next year. It was not an easy decision."

Without help from the Health Department, the five area agencies that try to subsidize prescription drugs will have a tough time keeping up with the higher demand.

Baum feels lucky. He is back on his drugs, thanks to one of those agencies.

"They've got money for rockets to the moon," Baum says. "They should have money for medicine."

The Health Department is currently looking for grants to bring back the program. County commissioners have also formed a health care committee to try and address the issue.

As part of thestate Senatebudget proposal, a study committee will be formed to explore ways of helping people who are too poor to pay for prescription drugs.

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Melissa Buscher, Reporter
David Renner, Photographer
Kamal Wallace, Web Editor

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