MedAssist, a Santa Clara County program that helps county residents with the cost of a few specific types of medications, will expand to include all medications for diabetes care, the county announced at a Sept. 21 news conference.
Previously, the program only covered insulin for diabetes patients. The program will continue to cover asthma inhalers and epinephrine auto-injectors, also known by the brand name EpiPens, which deliver life-saving medication in the event of a severe allergic reaction.
"In Santa Clara County, approximately 119,000 adults have diabetes, with nearly 29% of them taking insulin," according to a statement from the county. "With the MedAssist expansion to include all types of medications to treat diabetes, more Santa Clara County residents may be eligible for this program."
As the Voice previously reported in an Aug. 1 story about the program, qualification and the amount of financial assistance for the program is based on the patient's income level and healthcare expenditures, according to Joy Alexiou, Santa Clara Valley Health and Hospital System communications officer.
“People with high out-of-pocket expenditures receive monthly grants that inversely correlate to their income levels,” Alexiou said, meaning that the lower someone's income is, the higher the grant.
As Alexiou previously told the Voice, the rising cost of medications in the United States causes some people to take their medications less frequently than prescribed. Insufficient treatment of diabetes can accelerate vision loss, end-stage renal disease and death. The expansion of the program will help diabetes patients have access to all the medication they need, beyond just insulin.
"Our goal was to roll out a program that would allow people to keep themselves well without spending an arm and a leg," Fifth District Supervisor Joe Simitian, who spearheaded the creation of the program, said at the Sept. 21 press conference. "... What can we do to make the program even better? And the answer to that was to expand the coverage of the program. Particularly for those who are diabetic, insulin is one piece of the puzzle."
Nari Singh, pharmacy director at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, said the expansion will include all medications used for the treatment of diabetes, allowing more Santa Clara County residents to control their diabetes in a way that works best for them and their health.
"No matter where you get your care, we are here to help," Singh said at the press conference.
To apply for MedAssist online, head to scvmc.org/medassist, or download the application at scvmc.org and submit it to any SCVMC pharmacy locations. Staff will help guide residents through the process. If accepted into the program, participants receive a monthly check. Call 408-970-2001 for help applying or more information.