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County OKs discount Rx program, other initiatives

The Sandoval County Commission has approved several health initiatives, including a new prescription health and dental discount program for county residents and a push to reduce the number of people with mental illness who are incarcerated.

At Thursday’s meeting, commissioners agreed to authorize the county manager to enter an agreement with the National Association of Counties to participate in the NACo Prescription Discount Card Program.

The agreement would enter Sandoval County into a deal with NACo and CVS Caremark. Once it is made, CVS Caremark would work alongside pharmacies to get a discount for card carriers, said Patricia Miller, director of county human resources and risk management.

The optional program, which will work as a discount program and not as insurance, would provide an average savings of 24 percent for a resident cardholder’s prescription medication that is not covered by insurance.

The free card program will be available to any resident of the county and will be available for use at participating retail pharmacies. According to the NACo Prescription Discount Card Program informational website, nacorx.org, participating retail pharmacies include CVS, Walgreens, Smith’s and Albertsons.

Commissioner Glenn Walters applauded the commissioners for entering into the deal with NACo for the discount program, saying the next step for the county would be to inform residents.

Mental illness and jails

In other business, commissioners voted “yes” to join the Stepping Up initiative, a national movement committed to reducing the number of incarcerated people with mental illness. The movement is a collaboration with NACo, the Council of State Governments Justice Center and the American Psychiatric Foundation.

Walters, who sponsored the resolution, said that, by voting to join the initiative, commissioners have to commit to forming a plan to address the problem.

Jamie Silva-Steel of UNM Sandoval Regional Medical Center and Angela Ward of Rust Medical Center introduced commissioners to the new Sandoval County Health Collaborative. The organization presented commissioners with initial goals to expand the county’s health care workforce, as well as provide better health opportunities for residents of the county. Silva-Steel, the organization’s CEO and president, said the group will present more defined goals in the coming months.

SEA update

Jami Grindatto, CEO of the Sandoval Economic Alliance, presented an update on the organization’s activities. He said the SEA has been responsible for 391 jobs filled since July 1, as well as 540 jobs committed, but not yet filled, over the next 36 months. Although he is happy with the 540 committed jobs, Grindatto said the number is expected to fluctuate.

“The numbers that you see, I just want to put a huge caveat in – let’s not raise our expectations that all those jobs will come to Sandoval County; it’s a numbers game. It’s a game of sales and marketing,” he said.

Grindatto said the SEA has contacted over 2,500 companies since February, with 806 interested in learning more about the county and five companies voicing interest in moving to the county. Of the contacted companies, a large majority are located in the northeast, southeast and mid-Atlantic. Grindatto said he has targeted companies in those areas to contrast their cold winters and hot summers with New Mexico’s more pleasant weather.

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