Senior citizens in Arizona don't have to wait for Medicare changes to start saving money on their prescriptions.
Last month, many of the state's seniors received their CoppeRx Card for prescription discounts.
"It's commonly believed we have the best program of any state," Gov. Janet Napolitano said in a telephone press conference April 28. "We're one of the few states that has no enrollment fee. We're one of the few states that actually mailed the cards to everyone who was eligible for whom we had an address. And we're one of the few states that doesn't have any kind of formulary -- a formulary being a designated list of drugs you can get with the card."
The governor held the press conference about the CoppeRx Card, or Copper Card, because she said it is expected the senior population will soon be inundated with information about prescription discount cards.
"This is a good time to remind people of the Copper Card because they are going to be getting a lot of information about discount cards under the new federal Medicare law that passed," Napolitano said. "All I can say about that, because those won't come out for another month or so, but the preliminary ones we have seen have an enrollment fee associated with them. Our card has no enrollment fee. And at least some of the cards restrict the kind of drugs that are available to use the discount on. Our card has no such limitation."
The governor said the card was mailed to every senior citizen for whom the state had an address, primarily using the list of people with driver's licenses. The Copper Card entitles the card holder to discounts in all RxAmerica pharmacies, which includes about 500 of the state's 800 pharmacies, she said.
"The card gives a 15- to 55-percent discount off the average wholesale price of medications," Napolitano said. "It applies to both brand names and generics. There is no formulary or limitations on the use of the card."
Arizona seniors who did not get the card, or may have thrown it away without realizing what it was, can call (800) 770-8014 to obtain the card.
"It can be used in conjunction with other cards covering prescriptions," the governor said.
For instance, there was an earlier arrangement with the pharmaceutical manufacturer, Eli Lilly & Co., which allowed low-income seniors in Arizona, those making $18,000 a year or less, to buy any Eli Lilly medication for a flat $12 fee. This card can be used without causing a risk to use of the CoppeRx Card.
"There's no getting around the fact that every senior citizen is going to have to sit down and make their own choice as to what makes sense, given what health insurance they may have independently of Medicare, what Medicare comes out with and then the Copper Card," Napolitano said. "But the Copper Card is there and usable regardless of what other insurance you have. The Copper Card is very simple and it's free."
Arizona is not subsidizing the program -- it is sponsored by RxAmerica.
More than a million cards were sent out and they are already being used. Napolitano said the cards have resulted in an estimated $100,000 a week savings.
According to the RxAmerica website, the following chains are participating in the Arizona CoppeRx Card program:
Albertson's, Bashas', Costco, Eckerd Drug, Fry's Food and Drug, K-Mart, Osco, Safeway, Sav-On, Target and United Drug Pharmacies.
A large number of independent pharmacies also participate according information on the website, www.rxamerica. com