Patient advocates asked to continue outreach for hurricane relief effort.
By Shaina Smith.
Editor’s Note: Shaina Smith is a patient advocate and serves as Director of State Advocacy & Alliance Development for U.S. Pain Foundation. National Pain Report strongly supports the US Pain Foundation and we believe this information is worth sharing with as many people as possible.
While the nation has had its eyes fixed on television stations who may lend the latest information surrounding the impact the latest hurricanes have had since making landfall, patient-centric organizations and healthcare stakeholders have focused its attention towards those recently affected residents who may have had their health treatments interrupted.
As of last Thursday, 24 healthcare stakeholders signed a group letter submitted to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary, Thomas Price. The letter calls upon the Secretary to activate the department’s Emergency Prescription Assistance Program (EPAP). The letter comes one week after an informal call was held among steering committee members of Keep My Rx, a national campaign seeking to raise public awareness about the benefits of medical stability and the impact on patient health being forced by their health plans to switch medicines. Discussions from steering committee members included the agreement that action must be taken to ensure residents of Texas and Louisiana do not suffer unintended health outcomes due to access barriers resulting from hurricane Harvey.
Keep My Rx steering committee members took swift action to ensure individuals with chronic conditions are not left in the dark post-Hurricane Harvey. President & CEO of Lupus and Allied Diseases Association, Inc. Kathleen Arntsen hand-delivered a copy of the group letter to U.S. Senate Minority Leader, Charles Schumer. The National Infusion Center Association added a locator tool uniquely designed for patients to receive updates from their providers relating to infusion treatment access. CreakyJoints, a part of the nonprofit Global Healthy Living Foundation, has helpful articles related to emergency situations and relief. U.S. Pain Foundation created an online engagement campaign. Outside of Keep My Rx members, individuals have come together to create groups on social media, such as the Hurricane Harvey 2017 – People who need medical supplies/devices; online forms have been created to donate medical supplies, clothes, toiletries, etc.
According to the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, EPAP allows enrolled pharmacies (over 72,000 pharmacies are currently enrolled nationally), to process claims for prescribed treatments, as well as some forms of durable medical equipment for eligible patients in areas federally identified as disaster areas. The program also provides for a 30-day supply of covered drugs and supplies that can be renewed every thirty days so long as EPAP is active.
In the letter, signatories note their concern the impact the hurricane has had on residents who were following a drug regimen or treatment plan for their medical condition before the storm hit—whether post-surgery for an acute illness, chemotherapy for a potentially terminal illness; or oral, injectable or infusible therapies for a rare and/or chronic condition.
U.S. Pain Foundation has received stories from individuals who were without vital medical equipment, such as feeding tubes, struggling to locate open and operational medical venues, operational infusion and dialysis centers. To support those residents who are managing chronic illnesses such as cardiovascular disease, chronic pain, diabetes, autoimmune, immune-related or mental health conditions, the joint letter urges Secretary Price to prevent any additional negative health consequences by providing access to critical, life-saving and life-enhancing treatments and medical supplies.
Take Action: Support Individuals Without Medically Necessary Treatments and Supplies
For those with family and friends who have been directly impacted by the recent natural disaster, there’s action you can take to ensure loved ones do not have their health compromised. As previously stated, U.S. Pain has created an online engagement for interested advocates, caregivers and others to participate in. By reaching out to Texas, Louisiana and Florida Governors, asking that they request the HHS to activate its Emergency Prescription Assistance Program, this would allow people living with chronic pain and other medical conditions their necessary prescriptions and medical equipment. CLICK HERE TO HELP INDIVIDUALS IMPACTED BY THE HURRICANES
Individuals are also being asked by healthcare organizations and health-related stakeholders to increase outreach efforts on social media by Retweeting messages or copying/pasting sample posts, such as:
- Residents impacted from #Hurricanes deserve their necessary treatments & medical equip. Support victims here: http://tinyurl.com/ActivateEPA
- There’s action you can take to avoid unintended, negative health outcomes in #Texas http://tinyurl.com/ActivateEPAP #HurricaneHarvey #HurricaneIrma
- All residents affected by #HurricaneHarvey & Hurricane Irma should have access to necessary treatments: http://tinyurl.com/ActivateEPAP
- Governors of #Texas, LA & FL can help activate EPAP, but need to hear from you! http://tinyurl.com/ActivateEPAP #HurricaneHarvey #HurricaneIrma