When it comes to reducing the cost of health care, prevention is the best medicine. For those without prescription drug coverage, being unable to access medication can lead to additional severe health issues, sometimes requiring emergency care.
For the past two and a half years, the Community Medication Access Program (CMAP) has been quietly working on this problem, connecting low-income patients over the age of 18 in Greene County with resources to get the prescription medications they need. A project of Mercy , CoxHealth, Jordan Valley Community Health Center and The Kitchen Clinic, CMAP has helped more than 4,000 patients obtain medications worth an estimated $24 million - at no cost. CMAP is now expanding to include all counties in the CoxHealth and Mercy Springfield Communities service areas, bringing a much-needed resource to those who need help the most.
“We know that when patients can’t afford the medications they need, they often end up in the emergency room. We see this on a regular basis,” said Karen Kramer, CoxHealth vice president and chief nursing officer. “Through CMAP, patients are able to get their necessary medications and stay healthy. We’re excited to expand the program beyond Greene County, so everyone in our area who is eligible can benefit.”
CMAP works by connecting those in need with the many prescription assistance programs offered by pharmaceutical companies. These programs, while helpful, can be confusing to navigate. CMAP significantly simplifies the process for patients. They apply to CMAP, and the program’s staff works with the pharmaceutical companies that manufacture each of their prescriptions.
Becki Jones has been a CMAP client since the summer, and sings the program’s praises: “I have been helped so much,” she said. “Once I provided them with the paperwork they needed, they took over. They knew exactly what they were doing. It’s been such a relief.” Because of CMAP, Jones receives four medications worth $555 each month, for free.
”This program demonstrates the significant value the community can derive when the provider organizations collaborate towards a common goal,” said Dr. Dominic Meldi, Mercy medical director for care management. “Without CMAP, a significant number of uninsured patients in our community would remain untreated. This solution is so consistent with our mission of improving the health of the communities in which we serve.”
Patients can self-refer to the CMAP program by calling 417-820-9290 or toll free 877-480-6900, or be referred by their physician. Guidelines for participation are straightforward. Patients:
- must be 18 – 64 years of age
- must have an income that is 200 percent or less of the federal poverty level
- must have no current prescription coverage
- must be a patient of a provider associated with one of the four participating organizations
“CMAP undoubtedly improves health outcomes for people in our community. Too many individuals are faced with the dilemma of how to pay for food, medication, or shelter and the untenable choice of deciding which they can do without. Too many people skip on the very medication they need because they can’t afford it. With CMAP, we increase access to medication and see significant improvements in our patients and their abilities to manage chronic conditions. We are proud to participate in CMAP and help remove a barrier to care,” said Dr. Matthew Stinson, medical director of Jordan Valley Community Health Center.
CMAP was originally a program of the Springfield-Greene County Regional Health Commission, with funding provided in part by a grant from the Missouri Foundation for Health. When that grant ended, CoxHealth and Mercy agreed to provide the bulk of the program’s funding, recognizing the importance of the project. Other funding has come by way of a generous Force for Good grant from Mercy Clinic co-workers. Program leaders continue to seek financial support through additional grants and donations.
As Jones, the CMAP client, puts it, “Everyone needs to know about this program.”