Government shutdown turning out to be bad medicine

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The government shutdown is standing between hundreds of seriously ill Indianapolis-area patients and prescription drugs they need to survive.

Pharmacists at IU Health's Methodist and University Hospitals give away about $800,000 of prescription medicines a month to patients who don't have the money, insurance or government assistance to pay for them. The government shutdown is jeopardizing that lifesaving help.

Dorothy Juergensen, a pharmacy social Worker, is worried.

"People who are already sick, they won't get their cancer treatment, they won't get their HIV treatment. They won't get their immunosuppressant treatment. Without that they lose an organ," she said. Losing access to those drugs will create a life-threatening situation for those patients.

The hospital program relies on drugs donated by pharmaceutical companies and financial support from private foundations.

Before they can receive free prescription medicines, patients have to prove financial need. They need Social Security and IRS records. The federal agencies that are for the most part closed.

"Someone helped with their taxes. They didn't keep a copy," Juergensen said. She is already seeing patients who never had or can't find the necessary paperwork. Patients come from all walks of life, and different, many times difficults circumstances.

"From the person who is homeless and has no address and you might find them under a bridge, to executives who lost their jobs and their insurance and can't afford $4,000 a month medication," she explained.

The two pharmacies help roughly 100 patients a month. As the congressional deadlock continues, putting medical help on hold, an increasing number of seriously ill people will be holding on, on their own.

How is the shutdown affecting you? Let us know in the comments section below.