One of the reasons the governor delayed putting the Medicaid cuts in place until October first was to give people more time to explore alternatives. A group called Visions of Hope is one of those alternatives.
Visions of Hope in Biloxi helps low income people fill their prescriptions. The executive director says when the Medicaid cuts were first announced requests for help more than doubled but then leveled off when the deadline was pushed back. The people at Visions of Hope says this is not the time to wait for judges and politicians to sort through Medicaid. In an average month $37,500 worth of prescription medicine passes through Visions of Hope.
Drug companies offer medications to people who can't afford them. First recipients have to prove they need help. Processing all that paperwork takes time.
"It is not immediate," said director Sarah Walker. "It takes four to six weeks if you are going to receive assistance to even get it so the earlier you start the better off you are."
Visions of Hope can help many more people than they are now. Despite all the publicity about the Medicaid cuts, Walker says procrastination is a problem.
"Most of us if we see an an impending cut coming we'll wait until the last minute and we'll dash out and try to take care of it," said Walker. "I think that's pretty much what's happening now."
In addition to prescription help, the charity offers free medical exams and health screenings. The staff sees the need for quality medical care growing and without some kind of safety net, some worry the situation could spin out of control.
Walker said "What I fear with these Medicaid cuts is we will have diseases of epidemic proportions which will effect everybody. It will not just affect low income individuals. We're talking about tuberculosis, Hepatitis B. These people have to remain on medications so that everybody else is not at risk."
Once they qualify people can receive help with their prescriptions for up to a year. Visions of Hope is located on Division Street in Biloxi. For more information call 435-9200.