Attorney General Steve Bullock on Thursday announced that $986,000 from settlements with pharmaceutical companies has been dedicated to a block grant program to provide financial assistance to uninsured and underinsured Montanans who need help paying for their prescription medicines.
The Montana Hospital Association’s nonprofit arm, the Montana Health Research and Education Foundation (MHREF), will administer the block grant program. Local hospitals and community health care clinics can apply for grants that will be awarded statewide based on criteria designed to assure that the funds are used for the direct benefit of needy Montanans.
“This money came from settlements with drug companies and distributors in enforcement actions claiming that the companies fraudulently inflated the wholesale prices of drugs paid by Medicare and Medicaid, and engaged in other deceptive business practices,” Bullock said. “Now we can put that money back into local communities to help seniors, kids and working families who are struggling to pay for the medicines they need.”
Each county is encouraged to form local partnerships to develop a plan for how it would distribute the grant funds. The grant process allows considerable flexibility – in smaller counties, the local hospital could form a consortium with the pharmacy and, in larger counties, the partnership could involve some combination of hospitals, community health centers, pharmacies, or public health offices. The fund can be used to cover any drugs covered by Medicare or Medicaid. The program will involve direct input and involvement from providers and pharmacists in local communities, who are best positioned to make sure the funds get to those who need them.
“We are pleased to be working with Attorney General Bullock and our community hospitals and clinics to ensure that the citizens of Montana – from the smallest to the largest communities across the state – benefit from these pharmaceutical enforcement actions,” MHA President Dick Brown said.
Funding criteria and decisions will be made by MHREF in conjunction with a five-person advisory committee that includes representatives from nonprofit hospitals, community health clinics and Montana pharmacists.