By Sarah P. SmithAssociated PressHealth officials in some of the United States’ poorest states have begun offering free or discounted heart medication to low-income adults to help them deal with a severe and widespread shortage of drugs.
The move is a sign of how far afield some American health officials are from offering full coverage to all people.
The government spends millions each year subsidizing prescriptions for about $1 billion each year.
The program, known as “Capsicum,” is available in parts of Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico and Texas, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
It was developed by the Texas Health Resources Board, which provides health services to Medicaid recipients.
The Texas program is part of a nationwide effort, announced last year, to address a shortage of a key heart drug called fibrate.
Fibrate is an important drug for patients with congestive heart failure.
But the drug is being rationed by hospitals, which have been unable to find enough doses to treat all of the patients.
The new program offers patients free prescriptions for up to three days a week, and patients can use the savings to buy medication at pharmacies that sell it online.
The federal government began offering the free pills last week in Texas, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital said in a statement.
The state’s Medicaid program, TexasCare, also will offer the free medication for up $25 a day.
Health officials have been asking the public to share their experiences using the free program.
They have also posted on social media about their efforts, which include encouraging people to share information about the program.
“I want everyone to be able to get the medications that they need without feeling overwhelmed and feel like they are going to miss out,” said Mark Bortola, a health policy specialist with the Texas Medical Association.
“If you don’t have the resources, you can make it happen.”
A federal official said Monday that the Centers For Medicare & Medicaid Services had received about 200 requests to offer the drugs and that the agency was considering them all.
Officials said the first state-wide program has received more than 1,200 requests.
The CVS pharmacy in Dallas was the first pharmacy in the United, and it was able to take on the new responsibility of providing the pills, said Nancy Kuehner, a spokeswoman for the state’s Department of Health.
The drug is the same one that was available to the people who need it in Texas in February when the state started offering it.
“This is just the beginning,” Kuehler said.
“We’re very hopeful that it will be a success for all the people.”
The new programs are a response to a national shortage of heart medications.
The government has been working to make the drugs available to all Americans for years.
The drug was originally developed to treat people with congestivitis, a disease caused by a virus that attacks the heart.
But its effectiveness is so limited that many patients do not get the drugs.
About 3 million Americans suffer from heart disease, which causes high blood pressure and blood clots that can lead to heart failure and stroke.
The National Institutes of Health has spent billions of dollars on studies of the drug.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has spent about $3 billion on studies, and the drug has been shown to help treat heart failure in people with diabetes, stroke and other cardiovascular conditions.
The FDA has also tried to make fibrates more widely available.
But it has faced opposition from drug makers who say it is a burden on taxpayers and could cause more infections and deaths.
Some lawmakers have criticized the move as a wasteful way to spend scarce public dollars.
“It’s a waste of resources,” said Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, who has sponsored legislation to make sure the drug can be dispensed more freely to patients.
“This is a good example of the need to be patient and not just push the envelope.”
The drug will be available in Texas on Tuesday.