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Leave it to Beaver to help with meds

BY SHANE ERSLAND | OCTOBER 15, 2009 7:20 AM

Charlie Anderson/The Daily Iowan
Jerry Mathers, the star of “Leave it to Beaver,” sits at a booth signing autographs at the Johnson County Health and Human Services Building on Wednesday.

Iowans struggling to pay for meds:

• 283,000 uninisured
• 9.3 percent uninsured in 2007
• 9.5 percent uninsured in 2008
• 6.8 percent unemployment rate

Source: U.S. Census

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The majority of Iowa City residents who stopped by the Johnson County Health and Human Services Building on Wednesday came to specifically see a TV star.

Jerry Mathers, “The Beaver” of the show “Leave it to Beaver” signed childhood photos of himself as he raised awareness of chronic diseases.

But not Colleen Keith was not interested in Mathers.

She came to acquire medications through the organization he represents, the Partnership for Prescription Assistance.

“I’m having to pay for things I can’t afford,” she said. “I’ve gone without.”

Keith was attempting to obtain over-the-counter pain medicine, which the program does not cover. Though the organization could not immediately help Keith, it did offer her a Medicare advocate’s phone number she could call for aid. Keith said she thought the number could be of assistance.

“I’m glad I stopped by,” she said. “Anything would be good right now.”

Mathers has been working with the program’s “Help is Here Express” tour, which travels nationwide to help uninsured and low-income people access information on programs that provide prescription medicines for free or nearly free.

With Iowa’s unemployment rate at 6.8 percent, the actor, who suffers from diabetes, said he has had talked to many people in need of assistance.

“The recession has caused a lot of people to lose their jobs, and when they can’t work, they can’t get insurance,” he said.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, roughly 283,000 Iowans and 46.3 million people nationwide are uninsured.

While on tour, staff from the organization encouraged citizens in need of assistance to climb aboard their big orange bus, where they can apply for more than 475 patient assistance programs. Patients who qualify have access to more than 2,500 brand-name and generic prescription medicines.

Criteria for assistance are based on financial need.

Nationwide, Partnership for Prescription Assistance has helped connect nearly 6 million people to programs that meet their needs.

Spokesman Jeff Gilbert said the organization will continue its mission, regardless of future developments in health-care reform.

“As long as there is a need for people to get meds, we’re here to help them,” he said.

Mathers recalled an instance earlier this week, when the group helped an unemployed woman.

“She has [multiple sclerosis], and she’d been eight months without meds, and we were able to get her $2,500 a month until she can get insurance.” he said. “When good neighbors are struggling, other neighbors can come to help them.”


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