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Santa Clara County has begun offering financial support to residents with chronic illnesses like asthma and diabetes who struggle to pay their prescription drug costs, county officials said.

The MedAssist program supports those who have asthma, diabetes or severe allergies by partially or fully reimbursing the costs of insulin, inhalers and EpiPens.

Eligible residents who participate in the MedAssist program will receive a check each month to help them pay for their prescription costs, including those filled at retail pharmacies, according to the county.

A resident’s annual income must also be below a certain threshold for their household size to qualify for reimbursement, according to the county. For a household of four, a program participant must make less than $251,000 to qualify.

“A lot of folks are part of that ‘missing middle.’ They make a little too much to qualify for Medi-Cal or other programs like it, but not enough to afford high-quality, market-rate health insurance,” county Supervisor Joe Simitian said. “These are essential medications — lifesavers, truly — but the cost is out of reach for middle-class families.”

According to county health data, nearly 400,000 residents have asthma, diabetes or use an EpiPen to combat severe allergic reactions.

The county initially started a MedAssist pilot program in 2020 and turned it into a permanent program during the 2021-22 fiscal year.

MedAssist program applicants must be adults living in Santa Clara County, have a valid prescription for the relevant medications and meet the program’s income requirements.

“Our goal is simple: keep people alive and well, affordably,” Simitian said. “MedAssist can help make that happen.”

Application information for the MedAssist program and income thresholds for various household sizes can be found online.