CHEYENNE — A state program to help low-income people afford prescription drugs is open for enrollment again after being closed to new members for the past three years.

A funding shortfall prompted the Wyoming Department of Health to freeze the drug program to new enrollment in July 2003.

But on Saturday, the Wyoming Prescription Drug Assistance Program reopened to new enrollment for people earning less than the federal poverty level. The state plan isn't limited to helping seniors or disabled people.

A number of slots in the program opened up this year because Medicare Part D started offering benefits to many people who had been on the state drug plan.

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Eligible clients can get up to three prescriptions per month with a $10 co-pay for generic drugs and a $25 co-pay for name-brand drugs. Eligibility is determined by local offices of the state Department of Family Services.

Sharon Montagnino, CEO of the Cheyenne Health and Wellness Center, said there's a huge need for the state program. The Cheyenne center offers discounted care to people based on income.

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"This might save us some money as well as save the patients some money," Montagnino said. She said that when people can afford their medicine, they're more likely to come in for regular health care instead of waiting until problems become so serious they require expensive emergency room care.

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