County Faced with Increased Prescription Drug Costs for Indigent Patients

County Supervisors Tuesday will be asked approve up to $24.4 million for a 16-month renewal of the county’s prescription drug contract with Rx America for the county’s indigent mentally and physically ill adults.

The number of annual prescriptions written under the contract has risen from 209,635 a year to 466,956 (a 123 percent increase) since the contract first went into effect in May, 2007, according to a staff report.

Overall, the numbers of adults aged 21 to 64 who are poor and without health insurance has increased because of the Great Recession, medical leaders told the county last year.

But the staff report cited implementation of 2004’s ballot proposition 63, the Mental Services Health Act, and increased coverage for the medically indigent for the rise in the number of perscriptions.

It said annual prescription costs for both physically and mentally ill patients increased from $15.9 million in 2007-2008 to $18.2 million for the 2011-2012 fiscal year.

The county’s Medical Services Initiative (MSI) is a required state and county-funded program to provide medical care to medically indigent adults who are residents of Orange County.

The Behavioral Health Services (BHS) program provides mental health treatment.