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Md. House mulls prescription relief plan

March 21, 2001

Md. House mulls prescription relief plan



A Washington County program that links people to free drugs offered by pharmaceutical companies is likely to be part of a statewide prescription drug relief plan being considered by the Maryland General Assembly.

The House version of the plan includes $400,000 for the Western Maryland Prescription Program being run at the Walnut Street Health Clinic. Another $1.5 million would go to other parts of the state to expand the program.

Del. John P. Donoghue, D-Washington, will defend the plan on the House of Delegates floor, possibly today.

"This is a temporary measure designed to take care of people until the federal government steps back in. We can't rely on free drugs from the manufacturers as a long-term solution," he said.

Washington County Health Officer William Christoffel was pleased by the news. He and the two health officers from far Western Maryland had been lobbying for money to continue the program, which has served 800 people in six months.

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"That demonstrates there is a tremendous need out there. We think it's a very important program," he said.

In addition to the expansion of the prescription program, lawmakers are considering several other ways to help senior citizens overwhelmed by rising drug costs.

The details will be worked out in the last three weeks of the session by a conference committee on which Donoghue hopes to serve.

- Laura Ernde

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