JPS Health Network has teamed up with the city of Fort Worth to make sure that, in these tough times caused by a global pandemic, people can afford to get the prescription medications they need.
“Around 50 percent of a person’s health can be attributed to their social, economic and physical environment,” according to Devon Armstrong, Director of Outpatient Care Management at JPS. “We refer to these things as the social determinants of health. We know that medication compliance is imperative. But often our patients don’t have the ability to afford their medication for economic reasons. That’s especially true now more than ever.”
Fort Worth in May received a $15.4 million federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act grant. In addition to other assistance Fort Worth residents can get from those resources – including rent and utility assistance – qualified COVID-19 patients can get a $300 deductible waiver for their prescription medication.
Applicants must document that their financial hardship is related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Armstrong said, since the program went into effect, the JPS outpatient pharmacy has seen a 15.2 percent increase in patients who use payment vouchers to purchase needed medications. She said she believes the increase shows how seriously the virus has heightened the demand for medical care while devastating the economy – and patients’ ability to pay – at the same time.
“The pandemic has caused significant disruption in all of these environments for a large portion of patient population,” Armstrong said. “The outpatient case management department is screening patients and navigating them to non-clinical services and resources. We are finding that patients are experiencing housing instability, food instability and needing assistance with utilities and prescription co-pays. The unique thing is that we aren’t just identifying these things and moving on. We’re able to help and make a difference.”
From April 1 through July 15, 2020, 1,789 more people have received assistance in filling their prescriptions than over the same period of time in 2019.
Nicole Shoquist, Director of the pharmacy at JPS, said she’s glad to see patients be able to get the medications they need.
“I can’t say exactly how many households have been affected by the prescription assistance program,” Shoquist said. “But I know that more than 1,400 applications have been received so far. It’s definitely making a big difference.”
Patients can complete an application online at fortworthtexas.gov/covid-19/fortworthcares. They can call 817-392-5720 with questions. Once they qualify, the process is easy, Armstrong said.
“We complete a brief screening and we are able to set up an agreement with the patient to make a small contribution and, in many cases, we cover the rest of the cost,” Armstrong said. “Whatever the patient needs, we figure out how to meet it because that is what we do here at JPS.”