[At age 53, George Telleria has survived a major heart attack and colon cancer. But he says the stress over trying to get the prescription medicine he needs to keep his blood flowing smoothly sent him back to the emergency room.
Telleria can get the drug, Plavix, for free through the manufacturer's prescription-assistance program. The problem for him and as many as 200 other Osceola County residents — as well as an unknown number of patients in other counties throughout the state — is that the county pharmacy that once served as a necessary intermediary has been forced to close for budget reasons.
"It's ridiculous," said Telleria, a former locksmith who has struggled to work steadily since his health problems began in 2009. "The people at the health department don't even have to do anything. All the company requires is one signature from a doctor to receive the medicine."
But after three years of budget cuts from the state, Osceola closed its pharmacy in mid-June, even after laying off nearly 40 workers in April. According to spokeswoman Camille Bissainthe, the prolonged economic slump has meant more patients who are uninsured, underinsured or on Medicaid just as government money to help them is drying up.] emphasis added