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Prescription Drug Affordability: A 2004 AARP Montana Survey

In 2003, the Montana legislature passed Senate Bill 473, Healthy Montana, that would create a state prescription drug discount program for those residents most in need of help in paying for their medications. However, with the recent passing of legislation by Congress to provide a prescription drug benefit under Medicare, many of the states' likely beneficiaries will now receive help through the new Medicare law.

The findings in this report discuss the need for prescription drug assistance and gauge the importance of – and support among Montanans 18 and older for – a state prescription drug program. These findings are from a larger survey that also explored another important issue facing the state: energy use and assistance programs. Because the two issues are so different and unrelated, separate reports on each are available. A full annotated questionnaire showing the findings to all survey questions is included in each report.

Survey highlights include:

  • Among the 424 respondents who report taking prescription medication on a regular basis, 48 percent say they spend $100 or more out of their own pocket every 90 days for their prescription drugs, with 23 percent of them spending $250 or more out-of-pocket on their prescription drugs.
  • Also among the 424 Montanans taking prescription drugs on a regular basis (about half the total sample), two-thirds say that paying for their prescription medications is a major (32 percent) or minor (34 percent) financial problem.
  • To 77 percent of respondents, it is very important that the state make prescription drug costs more affordable to those most in need, and 58 percent would strongly support a state-funded prescription drug program even if they were not eligible to receive benefits. Another 28 percent would somewhat support it.
  • About seven in ten Montanans strongly support (50 percent) or somewhat support (18 percent) increasing the tax on cigarettes and tobacco products in order to help the state implement and maintain a prescription drug discount program. However, 23 percent say they strongly oppose generating revenue for a state prescription drug program this way.
  • This survey of 800 age 18+ Montanans was conducted between April 8 and April 18 of 2004. The report was prepared by Jennifer H. Sauer of AARP Knowledge Management who may be contacted at 202-434-6207 for further information. (28 pages)

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