October 18, 2018 - The Emergency Prescription Assistance Program (EPAP) has been activated in response to Hurricane Michael in select counties in Florida. EPAP allows uninsured patients who have been impacted by a federally declared disaster to receive an up to a 30-day refill of their prescriptions, certain vaccines, and durable medical equipment (crutches, wheelchairs, etc.) at no cost. The program was activated on October 18, 2018. Read more on HHS's website - Emergency Prescription Assistance Program. Para información sobre EPAP en Español, ven aquí.
How it works
EPAP is not automatically activated for all declared disasters. States and territories must formally request the Federal government turn the program on. Once turned on, the program allows enrolled community pharmacies to process claims for prescriptions and other medical supplies for uninsured patients. EPAP engages existing claims processing procedures, so as little burden is placed on pharmacies as possible when the program is activated. HHS has a webpage that lists the steps pharmacists should take when EPAP is activated. You can also find out if your pharmacy is enrolled in EPAP on HHS's website, or see our collated list (PDF) of EPAP enrolled pharmacies in the counties where EPAP is currently active.
Eligibility for the program is based on home location. If an uninsured patient is unsure whether they qualify, they should call the EPAP hotline at 855.793.7470 for more information. Services are paid for no matter where the patient currently is if their home address is in an area with a declared emergency. This is a critical component of the program, as it allows patients from Florida who have evacuated to stay with family in other states to receive benefits. Patients may continue to renew prescriptions as long as EPAP is active.
Why it is important
During disasters, medicines and medical supplies are often damaged or lost. Patients without prescription assistance may not be able to replace critically needed medicines for a number of reasons, and so may be forced to go without them. Alternatively, they may seek them at the only place they can – the emergency room. Patients going without their medicines may eventually end up in the emergency department regardless, as conditions that were once under control could become exacerbated without necessary medicines or medical equipment. Emergency departments are always crowded during disasters. EPAP can help ensure patients get the medicines they need, when they need them, without a trip to the hospital. This program keeps emergency departments available while ensuring as many patients receive necessary medications and equipment as possible.