SANTA CLARA COUNTY, Calif. (KRON) — A new program launched by Santa Clara County looks to combat stubbornly high prescription drug costs for county residents.

The MedAssist Program assists eligible County residents and families living with chronic diseases by offering a monthly check to help pay for their medications.

In Santa Clara County — 118,900 adults have diabetes mellitus, 257,000 adults and children have asthma, and 21,600 individuals are prescribed epinephrine auto-injectors (EPI pen).

The county said people living with chronic diseases have a particularly difficult time, not only because of their disease state but because of the rising cost of their medications.  

Some individuals may miss taking medications to make ends meet despite these vital medications being the difference between life and death for certain disorders like diabetes, asthma, and severe allergies.

“A lot of folks are part of that missing middle. They make a little too much to qualify for Medi-Cal or other programs like it, but not enough to afford high-quality market-rate health insurance,” said County Supervisor Joe Simitian, who first proposed the MedAssist program in 2020.

“These are essential medications — lifesavers, truly — but the cost is out of reach for middle-class families. I encourage people to apply. Our goal is simple: keep people alive and well, affordably. MedAssist can help make that happen.”

Any eligible county resident can receive these funds, including people who fill their prescriptions at retail pharmacies like CVS or Walgreens.

The eligibility criteria for this program are:

  • 18 years or older;
  • reside in Santa Clara County;
  • have a valid prescription for an asthma inhaler, insulin, or epinephrine auto-injector;
  • meet household out-of-pocket healthcare spending and annual gross household income requirements.

In January 2020 — the County Board of Supervisors voted to investigate the opportunities and costs associated with subsidizing select life-saving medication for County residents.

In the County of Santa Clara’s fiscal year 2021-2022 budget, the pilot program became an ongoing program dedicated to helping the “missing middle” population, thus an individual who is part of a family of four can make up to $251,000 and would still receive partial reimbursement. 

“By helping to pay for prescriptions, MedAssist helps individuals who have diabetes, asthma, or severe allergies stay on their medications,” commented Nari Singh, Director, Pharmacy Services, Santa Clara Valley Medical Center.

“Keeping people on their medications improves their health and the community’s overall health outcomes.”

Eligible county residents can apply online or download the paper application and submit it to any SCVMC pharmacy locations.

County staff will be available to help guide a resident through the process to ensure it is seamless — once accepted, participants receive a monthly check to assist in payment for these medications. Call 408-970-2001 for more information.

To apply for the program, click here.