DHS News February 2014
Help for Low-Income
Prescription Drug Users
Karen Abmayer is newly in charge of the Office of Behavioral
Health’s Pharmacy Benefit Program, but not new to it. She became supervisor of
the program in December, after having been the assistant to the supervisor for the past 10 years.
The Pharmacy Benefit Program provides behavioral health
medication to people with an adjusted gross income of up to $500 a year. The program
is a “payer of last resort,” meaning that consumers cannot have prescription
coverage of any sort.
Consumers must have an intake done by a Service Coordination
Unit (SCU)—a DHS provider of mental health services -- to be diagnosed and to
determine possible eligibility. The final eligibility determination is made by
the Pharmacy Benefit Program, which also enrolls consumers. Prescriptions may
only be written by a doctor affiliated with an SCU, written on an Allegheny
County prescription form and filled according to the prescription program’s
Behavioral health diagnoses needing medication treatment can
range from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) to severe schizophrenia.
Karen said the program currently serves about 1,200 clients. Its purpose
is simple: To ensure that those who need medication get it despite income
“There is help out there,” Karen said of her major message.
“Our goal is to keep people with behavioral health diagnoses provided with
necessary medication to keep them functioning and productive consumers.”
For more information about the Pharmacy Benefit Program,
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