Gov. Janet Napolitano’s original intent to create a state discount prescription-drug program for seniors has resulted in several private providers also offering similar discount programs.

Walgreens announced last week that nearly 200 Arizona stores will offer a discount program to compete with the state’s program that is offered via the Utah-based private RxAmerica. United Drug, a consortium of several independent pharmacies chiefly in Maricopa County, also announced a program.

Each involves charging an affordable annual fee that gives the payer significant discounts on prescription drug purchases. Some give even further price breaks if drugs are bought by mail or the Internet.

The program, joining similar ones offered in 18 other states, helps alleviate the heart-wrenching difficulties endured by so many older Arizonans whose incomes have not in recent years been able to keep pace with rising costs for medicine.

In addition to providing more affordable prescription drugs for 570,000 Medicare patients throughout Arizona, one financially satisfying aspect of Napolitano’s plan lies in its being almost wholly handled within the private sector, without large infusions from a heavily burdened state budget.

This allows for Arizona pharmacies, some of which had been offering programs of their own, to compete even more vigorously for seniors’ discount-drugs business, and in so doing, offer seniors lower prices.

During last year’s session, legislators refused to approve a similar program because of the cost of setting it up. Thankfully, that hesitancy did not stop the governor from announcing her own program on her first full day in office in January.

The discount drug program has to be counted as one of the successes of Napolitano’s first year. It shows a willingness to tap the marketplace for solutions, rather than relying on ever bigger government.

As the Legislature and Congress look for additional ways to make medicines and health-care services affordable to more people, similar market-based solutions that give consumers more and better choices must be given priority over expensive, one-size-fits all government fixes.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.