From the Worldwide Faith News archives

[PCUSANEWS] Methodists get prescription-drug benefit

Date Thu, 1 Apr 2004 15:17:09 -0600

Note #8187 from PCUSA NEWS to PRESBYNEWS:

March 30, 2004

Methodists get prescription-drug benefit

Card-carrying members qualify for deep discounts

by Amy Green
United Methodist News Service

NASHVILLE, TN - Responding to the escalating cost of prescription drugs, the
United Methodist Church (UMC) has begun making a new drug benefit available
to its 8.3 million U.S. members.

Through a partnership with health supply discounter DestinationRx, the UMC is
offering a free card that makes available discounts of up to 65 percent on
most prescriptions and other supplies such as contact lenses, vitamins and
medications for pets.

The benefit, which is available to all UMC members, without regard to their
insurance coverage, income or health status, was announced by the United
Methodist Association of Health and Welfare Ministries during a national
conference here in early March. The average member of UMC, the nation's
second-largest Protestant denomination, is 57 years old.

The benefit is for Methodists among the 40 million Americans with little or
no prescription drug insurance, said the Rev. Mearle Griffith, president and
chief executive officer of the health association. "We have many people
falling through the cracks," he said. "They're choosing between taking all of
the drugs they need, and groceries."

The cost of prescription drugs promises to be an important issue in this
election year.

The UMC is the first denomination to offer such a benefit, but Griffith said
he has heard from other denominations - including the United Church of
Christ, the Mennonite Church USA and the Roman Catholic Church - about
offering similar programs.

(Editor's note: Margaret Mellen, senior vice president for healthcare design
of the Presbyterian Church (USA) Board of Pensions, told the Presbyterian
News Service on March 30 that the board is "looking into this," adding,
"We're talking to the United Methodist Church to see how they put this
program together.")

Griffith said he believes the nation's leaders have been too slow in
addressing the issue. "We think it's taken too long, and we're not going to
wait around any longer," he said.

The benefit is the result of two years of research into how the denomination
could help its members, especially the working poor, afford their
medications. The denomination's missions arm, the Board of Global Ministries,
took up the issue as a social-justice cause, said Jane Ehrman, a consultant
to the board's Division of Health and Welfare.

DestinationRx, based in Los Angeles, has contracts with 25,000 pharmacies
across the country, including Eckerd's, Kmart and Target, to provide
discounted prescription drugs and health supplies to employers, unions, and
other organizations and individuals. It was selected to offer healthcare cost
information and software to the U.S. government under the Medicare reform
bill signed in December.

The denomination struck a deal with DestinationRx in late February and began
offering the cards immediately. UMC members can obtain cards by calling (800)
379-9040 and referring to the United Methodist Association.

The association will discuss the benefit during the UMC's top legislative
gathering, the General Conference, which starts on April 27 in Pittsburgh.

Griffith said he hopes congregations and youth groups will use the cards in
their outreach to the poor. "This is a natural extension of our commitment to
health," he said. "It's our passion to help the poor and needy."

Bill Deswick, a UMC member from Pontiac, IL, applauded the denomination for
taking action. "Prescription drugs have been for years the highest-priced
part of getting well," he said. "This provides a good opportunity to get
involved in something that will really help our members."

For more information, call the United Methodist Association at (937)
227-9494, or visit its Web site,

To subscribe or unsubscribe, please send an email to or

To contact the owner of the list, please send an email to

Browse month . . . Browse month (sort by Source) . . . Advanced Search & Browse . . . WFN Home