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 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 formulary.

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 barriers.

“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, call 412-350-7394.






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