Tulare County expands discounted prescription drug cost opportunities – Foothills Sun Gazette

The Tulare County Board of Supervisors approves a contract with Visalia Pharmacy, Inc. to cut down on prescription drug costs for patients of Tulare County Health Care Centers
VISALIA – The list of pharmacy’s offering pharmaceuticals at a discounted rate to those in need continues to grow in Tulare County, most recently the board of supervisors approved one more in Visalia.
At the Oct. 4 meeting board of supervisors meeting, supervisors approved an agreement with Visalia Pharmacy, Inc. and the Tulare County Health and Human Service Agency to provide discounted pharmacy drugs to residents that are patients of Tulare County Health Care Centers. Currently the county has existing contracts with other pharmacy networks, but by adding Visalia Pharmacy, Inc. to the list, it only expands the availability to those in need.
“The intent is to provide greater access for the population to the service through our health clinics,”  district one supervisor Larry Micari said. “We’re giving [patients] options. Maybe this is closer to them instead of having to go across town, so we’re trying to do this for [their] convenience.”
According to the staff report, Tulare County has a considerable number of people who have limited access to medical and pharmaceutical care. This is due to high costs of prescription medication, lack of transportation to medical services or a mix of both. In 2020, the U.S. Census reported that 17.1% of Tulare County residents fall under the poverty line. As of July 1, 2021, the census estimates a population of 477,054 residents in the county, but the percentage of those in poverty has not changed. According to the staff report, this agreement will serve Tulare County’s Health Care Centers patients, which exceeded 6,000 individuals in 2021.
This agreement will provide patients in Tulare County with greater access, flexibility and convenience. It will also expand the availability of discount prescription medication to vulnerable populations in Tulare County according to the staff report. The anticipated result is improvement to people’s personal health, fewer trips to medical facilities and the cutting down on the need for long-term medical care
Karen Elliot, Tulare County Health and Human Services Agency’s director of public health, said the agency wants to ensure patients in the county have easy access to medication for any conditions they might have.
“We don’t want them to have to worry about having to decide between putting food on the table or paying for rent,” Elliot said. “They need good access to care, and they should have the same access to medicines and pharmaceuticals to help them with their issues without the fear of not being able to afford it.”
The service of discounted pharmaceutical drugs is achievable through the 340B Drug Discount Program. According to the report, it is a federal program that allows participating pharmaceutical manufacturers to offer discounts on the price of medication to eligible healthcare organizations that serve vulnerable populations and Tulare county is one of those locations.
“If [patients] go to any of the pharmacies that have this program, then they can get [pharmaceutical drugs] at a discount price,” Elliot said.
According to Elliot, Visalia Pharmacy, Inc. approached the board of supervisors concerning this agreement just before the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown, which delayed the contract’s process. Now that the contract has been approved, it will stay in place until Oct. 3 2025, where it will then be renewed for one-year terms or terminated at the request of either party, according to Micari.
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