CMS activates emergency system to fill evacuees' prescriptions

By Heather Hayes
12:49 PM

In the wake of hurricanes Gustav and Ike, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have activated the new Emergency Prescription Assistance Program (EPAP). The program provides financial assistance to uninsured disaster victims to cover one refill of existing prescriptions.

Affiliated Computer Services facilitated the program's activation. The company is using its SmartTPL eligibility system to enable hurricane victims from southern Louisiana and eastern Texas to go to any pharmacy in the country and replace prescription medications or equipment, such as a walker or wheelchair, that might have been left behind or lost as they evacuated their homes.

"This is not about filling and refilling prescriptions," said Maureen Kitchfelt, vice president of ACS Federal Health Care. "It's just supposed to get people over the hump of an emergency."

SmartTPL creates an eligibility request during the pharmacy transaction and immediately determines whether a customer is covered by insurance and eligible to participate in EPAP. ACS will also send electronic communications to pharmacies alerting them to the program's availability and provide around-the-clock, toll-free call-center support for hurricane victims and pharmacists.

"We're basically applying a safe, cost-effective, efficient industry practice to an emergency situation that enables victims to get the medications they need, and it also allows for, on behalf of CMS, a very robust, safe system for distributing these medications," Kitchfelt said. "It streamlines the process and makes it easy for victims so they don't have to go without their medications."

People are eligible for the two current activations of EPAP if they reside in designated counties in southern Louisiana and Texas, but they must provide evidence of an existing prescription.