Public urged to spend donated meds money

COPAKE—Anyone living in Columbia County may be eligible for help paying for prescriptions or health-related and other expenses and free rides to medical appointments—all available through Columbia County Community Healthcare Consortium programs.

Lynda Scheer, consumer assistance program coordinator at the consortium, came before the Copake Town Board at its June 13 meeting to tell people about it.

One of the programs she talked about, specifically for Copake and Ancram residents, is the Foundation for Community Health (FCH) Prescription Assistance Program.

Based in Sharon, CT, the FCH is a “not-for-profit foundation dedicated to improving the health and well-being of the residents of the greater Harlem Valley in New York and the northern Litchfield Hills of Connecticut.” To accomplish its mission, FCH makes grants, conducts research, provides technical assistance, and supports collaborations and advocacy, according to its website:

“Thousands of dollars” given by an anonymous donor are available to help Copake and Ancram residents pay for their prescriptions and the “funding is not being used to its potential,” Ms. Scheer told the board.

Though the program is not just for senior citizens, Ms. Scheer used examples of seniors not being able to afford their prescriptions due to the “skyrocketing” cost. She said seniors are often hesitant to ask for help and often think they can take care of the situation themselves, by taking only half a dose of a medication per day or by only taking their insulin every other day. She said the FCH program can provide up to $250/month/person every month. That help with paying for medications “can be huge for seniors,” she said.

A program information card passed out by Ms. Scheer says, “The FCH Prescription Assistance Program can help cover costs associated with prescriptions, prescription premiums, and co-pays, and the cost of equipment needed to administer medication, such as syringes and nebulizers. Glucose test strips and glucometers are also eligible for financial assistance.”

Applicants must meet income guidelines related to the federal poverty level, but in a follow-up phone call with consortium Director of Consumer Assistance Programs Lisa Thomas and Ms. Scheer, they recommended that anyone seeking assistance should call their office to see if they are eligible rather than assume they are not.

“We want to spend all that money,” Ms. Scheer said at the board meeting.

Among the other programs offered through the consortium open to all Columbia County residents are the:

• Prescription Access and Referral Program in which consortium staff will help people apply for prescription assistance through drug companies. This program allows individuals to receive prescription drugs at reduced cost, and very often, at no cost, for those who qualify. Each company has a different set of qualification standards. Usually the patient has to be uninsured or under-insured and have an income level below or close to the federal poverty guideline to qualify. Applications are sent to the more than 400 drug companies that participate.

• Medical Transportation Program in which the Children and Adults Rural Transportation Service (CARTS) provides free door-to-door, non-emergency medical transportation to Columbia County residents. Any Columbia County resident with a need for non-emergency medical transportation is eligible to receive this service; there are no other eligibility criteria considered. In this “door-to-door” service, a CARTS driver escorts a person from his or her home or other pickup location to a healthcare provider’s office (anyone needing a greater level of assistance should be accompanied by a family member, friend or aide.) The service picks up individuals from any location in Columbia County, and will transport people to locations throughout the county and well beyond. Clients enrolled in Medicaid must receive prior authorization. Rides are provided at no charge. Donations are welcome but the inability or unwillingness to make a donation has no effect on whether a person is given a ride.

*Financial Assistance Funds provide payment, on behalf of eligible recipients, for health-related and other expenses. One such fund is the Columbia County Community Cancer Fund, which is used to offset the financial burden associated with a cancer diagnosis. Money from these funds is used to pay for health-related expenses such as health insurance premiums, co-pays, coinsurance and deductibles. They may also be used to pay for other household expenses, such as rent, utility payments and vehicle fuel. To receive financial assistance from the appropriate fund, individuals are asked to complete a brief application, and speak with the fund manager to discuss all the options and resources that may be available.

“The money is out there. We are trying to get the word out to people suffering with the high cost of prescriptions or who need help getting to medical appointments. We are here to help,” said Ms. Scheer.

For more information contact the Heathcare Consortium, 325 Columbia Street, Hudson at 518-822-8820 or Ms. Scheer can be reached at 518-822-8820 X 328 or by email at .

In other Copake Town Board action at the June meeting, the board heard from Planning Board Chairman Bob Haight, who asked the board to provide a police officer to keep the peace at the next scheduled Planning Board meeting.

Mr. Haight told the board that “an organized group is spreading misinformation and lies” on social media and elsewhere about the Planning Board.

He did not name the group, but an uproar was created at the June 6 Planning Board meeting, by opponents of the GRJH, Inc., proposal to build a new gas station/convenience store on the northwest corner of the state Route 23, county Route 7 and Craryville Road intersection.

Mr. Haight said a number of “rude people” made threats “creating a hostile environment” to the extent that the Planning Board “could not conduct the town’s business.”

Copake Supervisor Jeff Nayer, who had attended that Planning Board meeting, said “I have already spoken to [Resident Sheriff’s Deputy] Joe Kilmer” about being at the next meeting. “It was the worst meeting I have ever attended” and was marked by “yelling, screaming and profanity,” the supervisor said.

The Planning Board “takes its job seriously,” he noted, adding, “volunteers should not be treated like that.”

The Planning Board will not meet in July because its regular meeting date falls on the Fourth of July and no alternate date that month when a quorum could be present was found.

The next Planning Board meeting is slated for Thursday, August 1 at 7 p.m.

The next Town Board meeting is scheduled for Thursday, July 11 at 7 p.m.

To contact Diane Valden email

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