New Discount Pharmacy Shows Continued Progress In Vermont Community Health Centers

COLCHESTER– Senator Bernie Sanders, Congressman Peter Welch, and a spokesman for Senator Patrick Leahy announced today the opening of a new, first-of-its-kind “Community Health Pharmacy” in Colchester. 


The pharmacy is a clear example of the remarkable progress and growth of the Federally Qualified Health Center program in Vermont where, in the last six years, the number of health centers in Vermont has expanded from two centers to seven. 


About one in seven Vermonters – more than 80,000 patients – now receive care at a Federally Qualified Health Center regardless of income or insurance coverage.  Sanders, a member of the Senate health committee, has long championed community health centers as an extremely cost-effective way to bring health care to underserved communities, introducing legislation to significantly expand the program. 


Sanders, said, “At a time of great economic uncertainty in Vermont and the rest of the county, we are glad to announce some very good news.  While the number of Federally Qualified Health Centers has expanded from two to seven in recent years, and some 85,000 Vermonters get primary care and dental care at these facilities, I’m proud to announce that five of these centers have come together in using a program which means that tens of thousands of Vermonters will now be eligible for the lowest cost pharmaceuticals available anywhere.  In addition, this program will not only save individual patients money, but it is estimated that it can save the state at least 13 percent when Medicaid patients use this pharmacy program.”


Welch said, "This community pharmacy is a major step toward assuring Vermonters have access to the affordable prescription drugs they need. Unfortunately, with a pharmaceutical industry that has too often failed to deliver on affordability, we must continue to seek creative methods like this to get around the exorbitant cost of prescription drugs.  As we celebrate this important progress, I remain mindful of the many steps we have yet to take to make health care universally affordable for everybody."


Leahy said, “This is a creative, community-based solution that helps bridge one of the major gaps in health care.  The Heinz Foundation has been a catalyst in helping to forge these partnerships, and they deserve great credit and our thanks.  These community pharmacies bring buying power to Vermonters unable to afford coverage, lowering the cost of the prescriptions they need.  It’s a solution that also helps spotlight the need for and the importance of comprehensive health reform.”


The Community Health Pharmacy will be able to provide the lowest cost prescription drug prices in the country. It is a cooperative endeavor run by the health centers in Chittenden, Washington, Lamoille, Essex-Caledonia, and Franklin-Grand Isle counties.  Patients visiting these health centers can order their prescriptions electronically at the center, and receive discounted drugs by mail at home the next day.  The other two health centers in Rutland and Orange counties also participate in the discount pharmaceutical program through partnerships with local pharmacies.  To see a list of all the health centers, click here.


Federally Qualified Health Centers nationwide have an annual budget of $2 billion for 1,100 centers serving 17 million people. Applications by an additional 800 centers already have been approved, but have not been funded because of inadequate resources.  Providing resources for the 800 approved centers and another 2,900 new centers over the next five years would provide comprehensive primary care for every American who needs it. 

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