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Kennedy Launches Prescription Drug Initiative

BOSTON -- Citizens Energy Chairman Joseph P. Kennedy II today announced the launch of CitizensHealth to provide low-cost prescription drugs to uninsured senior citizens and working families in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island.

During a news conference at the Neponset Health Center in Dorchester, Kennedy said the initiative helps to relieve the burden of rising prescription drug costs, which fall the hardest on the most vulnerable in society -- older Americans living on fixed incomes and family bread-winners working at jobs without benefits or enough income to afford health insurance.

“Prescription drugs can perform healing wonders and improve the quality of life for those suffering a variety of conditions,” said Kennedy, founder of the non-profit Citizens Energy Corporation. “Working with our partners, Citizens Health aims to help those who need these medications but have trouble paying for them -- households struggling each and every day to put food on the table, pay for rising energy costs, and provide their families with Care.”

The many benefits of Citizens Health membership include: Significant discounts on all prescription drugs; extra savings on selected drugs from manufacturers; immediate savings on eye-care needs, including eye examinations, lenses, frames, contact lenses, and bi-focals.

Individuals and families interested in joining Citizens Health can call 1-800.JOE-K-4RX or 1-800-563-5479 to enroll or get more information. Members can also join by mailing in an enrollment form available at their local community health care center. Individual memberships cost $12 and family memberships $28. By presenting the Citizens Health card to participating pharmacies, members will receive significant savings on their prescription costs.

Kennedy was joined at the Neponset Health Center by CitizensHealth's partners in the prescription drug initiative, including the prescription benefits management firm Express Scripts, Inc., and the drug manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline, which have come together to make drug costs more affordable to the working poor.

“Patients will only benefit from their medicines if they take them as directed by a physician. But the uninsured are less likely to comply with their treatment unless they have confidence they can continue to buy their medicines,” Said David Stout, President of US Pharmaceuticals at GlaxoSmithKline.

“In the short term, efforts like the Citizens Health card -- and in the long term, a Medicare prescription drug benefit -- can help the uninsured comply with their treatment, and therefore benefit more from their prescription medication.”

For its part, Express Scripts will provide Citizens Health members with important prescription counseling and education services to help ensure safe and appropriate use of medications. “Express Scripts is proud to support Citizens Energy in providing significant assistance to a special group of people,” said Barrett Toan, Chairman and CEO of Express Scripts.

“This demonstrates how the private sector is focused on workable health solutions for people who are often overlooked by other health programs. The strong alliance Citizens Health has with community-based organizations will help insure the success of the program.”

Citizens Health is working with hospitals, community health care centers, mental health clinics, anti-poverty agencies and other organizations serving low-income families to get the word out about the initiative. In addition, television stations, radio stations, and billboard companies have donated space and air time to Citizens Health’s public service campaign, produced pro-bono by the Hill Holiday ad agency, to inform needy households about the prescription program.

“This is a unique coalition dedicated to helping solve the challenge of providing prescription drugs to the needy,” said Kennedy. “If you have trouble paying for the prescriptions you need, call Citizens Heath. The Citizens Health card can save you money,” said Kennedy.

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