Financially-strapped Iowans who are struggling to pay for their prescription drugs can get some help this week in accessing programs that provide medicines for free or nearly free. The "Help is Here Express" bus tour is part of the Partnership for Prescription Assistance (PPA) – an effort sponsored by America’s pharmaceutical research companies.
The bus, which is staffed by trained specialists, will make 10 stops in 9 Iowa cities this week. Spokesperson Ed Belkin says the specialists meet with uninsured patients to see if they might qualify for one of more than 475 patient assistance programs.
"Everything is completely free and confidential," Belkin said. "And in just a matter of minutes, we are usually able to tell people which program or programs they may preliminarily qualify for to get prescription medication help." Since 2005, the bus has made stops in more than 2,000 cities in all 50 states. Belkin says they decided to reroute the bus to Iowa and hit cities affected by flooding.
"If (Iowans) are having trouble because they can’t afford their health care coverage…we wanted to be there for them to see what we could do to help them get access to that prescription medication," Belkin said. The PPA also offers help through a website, www.pparx.org, and a toll-free phone number, 1-888-4PPA-NOW. The planned Iowa stops for the "Help is Here Express" bus include Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, Davenport, Muscatine, Columbus Junction, Burlington, Keokuk and Parkersburg.