Excellence in Health Care: Providing medicines to those who might go without

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Nov 122011

Excellence in Health Care: Providing medicines to those who might go without

Premium content from Charlotte Business Journal by Bea Quirk , Contributing writer
Date: Friday, September 30, 2011, 6:00am EDT – Last Modified: Thursday, September 29, 2011, 4:18pm EDT

Since 1997, N.C. MedAssist has been serving low-income residents of Mecklenburg County with free pharmacy services. Then, 18 months ago, thanks to a grant from the N.C. attorney general, it expanded its services to cover 85 of the state’s 100 counties. About 55% of those receiving medications live in Mecklenburg.

In the last fiscal year, it dispensed $14 million in free medication statewide.

In recognition of that growth and service, MedAssist is the recipient of a community partner/advocate award.

The organization is a good steward of the funding it receives. For every $1 donated, medicine valued at $8 is distributed. Brand-name medications are donated by pharmaceutical companies, while the agency purchases generic drugs.

Participation in the program is needs-based. Although antibiotics are available for acute care, most medicines are distributed to treat chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.

Prescriptions can be distributed through a patient’s doctor. In Mecklenburg, MedAssist operates a pharmacy near uptown where patients pick up medicines. A system to mail prescriptions to patients is in the works.

“We provide an invaluable service to patients and other health-care providers by making sure patients receive the medications they need and avoid future ER and urgent-care visits,” says Kelly Musante, MedAssist development director.

The state grant for expanding MedAssist’s services across the state expires at the end of the year. A fundraising campaign is under way to replace those funds for the effort, which costs about $1 million a year.

Bea Quirk is a Charlotte-based free-lance writer who can be reached at

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MedAssist featured on Fox Charlotte

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Nov 122011

Health Care Overhaul Could Face Supreme Scrutiny Next Week

By: Kirk Hawkins

Helen McDaniel spends spends roughly 150-dollars on medications each month and she’s uninsured. The West Charlotte resident said, “My mother always told me when you get down to the last seven pills, if you don’t have the money, call somebody.”

N.C. MedAssist says McDaniel could be one of roughly 84-thousand people in Mecklenburg County who would receive health insurance if President Obama’s Health Care overhaul survives Supreme court scrutiny.  “Not knowing what is going to happen, we just have to wait and see,”said Kelly Musante, N.C. Med Assist’s Development Director.

**To watch video, please click here.**

The non-profit provides medications for low income uninsured patients. “People come to us every day. They are choosing between buying their food or medicine. They just can’t afford both,” she said.

While some uninsured patients will receive relief, Med Assist said the other half of uninsured Mecklenburg County residents won’t receive health insurance. They earn either too much or too little to meet the health care overhaul’s income limitations.

McDaniel pays for her pills with her income as a part time personal care assistant. When the 51-year-old’s money runs out, her two daughters and her faith help out. “That’s all you gotta do. You gotta work. Pray on it and work together and just do the best you can do you know?”

Carolina’s Medical Center said they spent about one billion dollars on the uninsured last year. That’s a slight drop compared to last year.