Prescription drug discount cards pitched for Delaware Board approval

By Matthew J. Perry
ProAct, Inc., a subsidiary of Kinney Drugs, pitched the Delaware County Board of Supervisors Wednesday with a plan that could realize savings on prescription drugs for thousands of uninsured and underinsured residents. While the board expressed interest in the plan, no action will be taken until the county attorney has reviewed and approved a contract with ProAct.
The product, a discount card that would be sent out in mass mailings and made available at pharmacy counters, would cost the county nothing beyond an endorsement. David Warner, ProAct’s representative, described the discount card plan as “a way to introduce ourselves to the community.” Under questioning by the board, Warner acknowledged that in providing the service, ProAct would hope to contract with the county in its main business, which is managing prescription plans for county employees.

10 counties participate
Ten New York counties currently participate in ProAct’s program. Residents in possession of a ProAct drug card simply present it to pharmacies when purchasing a prescription; no enrollment process, review or fee is involved. The card is accepted in 60,000 pharmacies in the nation, according to ProAct’s website. Warner claimed that the card can bring 10 to 20 percent savings on brand-name prescriptions, and up to 50 percent on generic.
William Moon, commissioner of social services, praised the plan as a boon to those who “slip through the cracks” of county agencies. “A program like this helps a large number of people who come to our office that we can’t usually help, people who need public health assistance and have no insurance,” he said. “And there’s no administrative cost to us.”
Several supervisors were very curious to know who absorbs the expense when the cards are presented. The answer is the pharmacies and drugstores, who participate in the hope that an increase in traffic and revenues will offset the discounts they offer to customers.
Andes Supervisor Marty Donnelly stated that this concept is not new, and is similar to preferred provider organizations (PPOs), in which health care providers discount their services in return for connection to a network and a larger patient load.
“This is something long overdue for people who don’t have insurance,” Donnelly said while expressing his support for the plan.
Other board members, suspicious that they were being tempted to eat a free lunch, were reluctant to endorse the program until Warner explained clearly why the county would not be on the hook for any fees or administrative costs. ProAct pays for the prescription cards and mailings, and presents the drug card plan as a means to increase their profile in communities and solicit other business from the county. But Delaware County is not obligated to contract with ProAct for any other services.
“This program just gets your foot in the door around here,” Davenport supervisor Dennis Valente concluded.
“You got it,” Warner replied. He went on to say that ProAct’s plan had been endorsed by the New York State Association of Counties, and seemed eager to secure the board’s endorsement immediately.
Board attorney Richard Spinney, however, advised that no endorsement be given without a contract to be reviewed. “Any time you take action or endorse a program you have the potential for a liability problem,” he said.
Chairman Jim Eisel requested a contract and agreement from ProAct that could be voted on in the next board meeting, scheduled for October 22.