January 15, 2020
HHS Activates Emergency Prescription Assistance Program for Uninsured Puerto Rico Residents Needing Medicine after Recent Earthquakes
As part of the Trump Administration’s government-wide response to the series of earthquakes and aftershocks affecting Puerto Rico, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) activated its Emergency Prescription Assistance Program (EPAP) for Puerto Rico to give residents access to the critical prescription medications they need. The program pays for prescription medications for people without health insurance who are affected by disasters.
“When a disaster strikes, medications can get lost or damaged, putting people’s health and well-being at risk and straining local healthcare systems. HHS is here to help,” said HHS’ Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Robert Kadlec, M.D. “I encourage uninsured residents in Puerto Rico to take advantage of this vital prescription program.”
At no cost to uninsured patients, those needing certain prescription medications, medical supplies, vaccinations, and some forms of medical equipment during an emergency can obtain a 30-day supply at any of the EPAP participating pharmacies. A list of the eligible products is available online. Patients can renew their prescriptions every 30 days while the EPAP is active.
Patients can also use the program to replace many prescription drugs, specific medical supplies, vaccines or medical equipment lost as a direct result of the declared emergency or as a secondary result of loss or damage caused while in transit from the emergency site to the designated shelter facility.
EPAP provides an efficient mechanism for enrolled pharmacies to process claims for prescription medication, specific medical supplies, vaccines and some forms of durable medical equipment (DME) for eligible individuals in a federally identified disaster area. More than 750 pharmacies in Puerto Rico participate in EPAP.
Uninsured Puerto Rico residents affected by the earthquakes can call Express Scripts, 855-793-7470, to learn if their medication or specific DME is covered by EPAP and to find a participating pharmacy.
President Donald Trump issued an emergency declaration for Puerto Rico on January 7, 2020, due to the earthquakes and HHS Secretary Azar subsequently declared a public health emergency in the area.
ASPR leads HHS in preparing the nation to respond to and recover from adverse health effects of emergencies, supporting communities’ ability to withstand adversity, strengthening health and response systems, and enhancing national health security. HHS is the principal federal agency for protecting the health of all Americans and providing essential human services, especially for those who are least able to help themselves.
To learn more about protecting individual and patient health as well as actions that HHS is taking, see ASPR’s 2020 Earthquakes in Puerto Rico site. For those interested in providing information to help keep their community healthy after disaster, please see the HHS list of Public Service Announcements. To learn more about EPAP, check out HHS Emergency Prescription Assistance Program, a video that uses American Sign Language to explain eligibility and how the program works.
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Last revised: January 15, 2020