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Mountain Region residents struggling to afford the medications their doctors prescribe


ASHEVILLE -- People concerned about the high cost of the medications their doctors prescribe joined AARP in the Mountain Region at an August public forum on lowering prescription drug costs.

Lenore Baum of Asheville is a healthy 73 year old who thought she didn’t need a prescription drug plan. But after being diagnosed with atrial fibrillation her treatment required several months of drug therapy that she struggled to afford. “Even using a Canadian pharmacy and paying one-third of the price, it was still really high,” she said.

Lenore was joined by about 50 others who came to listen to what federal and state policies can help lower costs. They also learned what they can do as consumers to reduce their medication spending and how they can find available prescription assistance programs.

State Representative Josh Dobson, who represents Avery, McDowell and Mitchell Counties, talked about his support for a GOP proposal to provide Medicaid coverage to more people in the state since that program covers more health care costs.

“But even so, more needs to be done to make medications more affordable or the cost to those programs will be unsustainable over time,” said AARP North Carolina Director Michael Olender. “Until Congress acts, AARP hopes to work with Dobson and others in the General Assembly to find state based solutions that will benefit patients in the Tar Heel state.”

AARP voter education expert Khelan Bhatia said that although local philanthropies and state governments are working towards their own solutions to provide some relief from soaring drug prices, Congress is in the best position to help lower costs. He explained that regardless of politcal party, this is a high priority of older voters all across the nation.

Representative Dobson and Bhatia were joined by John Wingerter of the Council on Aging in Buncombe County, and Tasha Woodall, a geriatric pharmacist at Mountain Area Health Education Center.

Right before Labor Day, AARP volunteers delivered over 40,000 signatures to Senator Thom Tillis’s Raleigh office urging him to take immediate action to help lower costs.

AARP Associate State Director Rebecca Chaplin said, “Although the dog days of summer are almost behind us, people are feeling the constant heat from high drug prices.”

She encourages those who have yet to sign the petition, to join AARP’s fight to “Stop Rx Greed.”

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