Military veterans living in the state-run Alaska Pioneer Homes are losing out on free or low-cost prescription benefits they are entitled to for serving their country because two medical bureaucracies can't seem to figure out how to get VA drugs to them.
The problem — mostly about the packaging the medicines come in — affects those veterans who need help from staff to take their meds.
Instead of pill bottles, the Pioneer Homes want the medicine to come in blister packs -- foil on one side, plastic on the other, name of pill and patient on the package, with each pill ready to be individually popped out.
That's for safety, says Dave Cote, head of the Pioneer Homes.
But the Veterans Administration isn't set up to make blister packs, says Marcia Hoffman-Devoe, spokeswoman for the agency. "We don't have the space to do that. We do not have the capability to do that."
Bea Combs's stepfather, a Navy man from 1943 to 1945, was affected when the Anchorage Pioneers' Home quit accepting medicine from the VA last spring. So she's trying to get the problem taken care of for all veterans.
"I was very upset when they notified me I had to get drugs from the Pioneer Home pharmacy," she said. That change came with a bill for $120, on top of the $6,178 monthly her family is already paying for care of Melvin Ertwine, who is 86.
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