By Jessie Burchette
Rowan County will soon offer a discount drug program to county residents regardless of income or health insurance.
The Board of Commissioners voted unanimously Monday evening to offer the discount drug program offered nationwide by the National Association of Counties (NACo).
More than 40 North Carolina counties currently offer the program, including neighboring Davidson and Iredell.
Savings average 20 percent under the program according to Caremark, the company that administers the program nationally.
Commissioner Jon Barber pushed for the countys participation in the program after hearing from a Cleveland resident who read about Iredell County commissioners offering the discount cards.
Barber said he researched the program and became convinced its a good deal. It comes basically at no cost to the county or participants.
The only cost to the county will be in manpower to set up the program and distribute the cards.
Barber also checked area pharmacies and found that 68 within a 20-mile radius of Salisbury accept the card.
Barber said the card will provide discounts on drugs that some insurance wont cover.
Calling attention to the high numbers of children on free and reduced lunch programs at schools and the high Medicaid caseload in Rowan, Barber said the program could benefit a lot of Rowan residents.
Chairman Arnold Chamberlain said the program has been mentioned before, but never taken seriously.
Commissioners briefly discussed how the program can be operated and how the cards will be distributed.
Ken Deal, director of administrative services, said some counties distribute them through social services, senior services and the health department. At least one distributes the cards through the tax collection office.
The cards have numbers not names. One card can be used by everyone in a family.
The cards may be used by all county residents, regardless of age, income or existing health coverage. There is no enrollment form, no membership fee and no restrictions on frequency of use. Card holders may use the card any time their prescriptions are not covered by insurance.
Commissioners agreed for Deal to take the necessary steps to get the program operating.
Once the cards are available, they will be placed at various offices and agencies around the county. Those sites will be announced at a later date.
In other matters, the board heard information or acted as follows:
Unanimously agreed to set a public hearing at the May 21 meeting for a change in the county parks and recreation ordinance. The proposed change would delete the Parks and Recreation Commissions authority to grant permission for sale of beer and wine within the county parks.
Last month, commissioners voted to prohibit sale, consumption or possession of alcoholic beverages on county property.
Approved a series of budget amendments including several adding money from donations and sales.
The Cooperative Extension Service netted $4,022 from the sale of geraniums.
The Rowan Public Library netted $5,751 from the sale of surplus books and materials. Jeff Hall, library director, plans to use the money to buy new furnishings for the childrens room at headquarters and at the East Branch.
The library also received $20,000 from the Library Foundation and $3,000 from the Margaret C. Woodson Foundation. The funds will be used to buy additional materials.
And the Tadlock Regional Library received $5,358 in additional donations that will be used at that library.
Commissioners also approved an amendment to the detention center budget to allocate $9,400 for drugs and medicine for inmates.
By Jessie Burchette