Applicants must have an income no more than $53,410 for a family of three.

AUGUSTA (AP) – A revised version of the Maine Rx law enacted by the Legislature more than three years ago to bring down the cost of prescription drugs is scheduled to take effect in January.

MaineRx Plus will offer drugs at a savings of 15 percent to 60 percent to residents with incomes at or below 350 percent of the federal poverty level, the state Department of Human Services said. To qualify, applicants must have an income no more than $53,410 for a family of three or $31,430 for an individual.

Applications will be available starting in December at all DHS offices or by calling (800) 452-1926, DHS spokesman Newell Augur said. The department also will send new MaineRx Plus cards to those who participated in the Healthy Maine Prescription Program, which will now be part of Maine Rx Plus, Senate Majority Leader Sharon Treat, D-Farmingdale, told the Kennebec Journal.

The state could not start the program until next year because it has been tied up in a court battle with pharmaceutical manufacturers. In May, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the companies no longer could keep the program from being implemented.

The Legislature then rewrote parts of the program and passed a new version of it this spring.

There could be future court challenges, but Gov. John Baldacci instructed DHS to move forward with the program.

Treat said it doesn’t make sense to wait for all the court proceedings to take place before implementing the program.

“It’s important because there’s thousands of people in Maine who have absolutely no way of getting prescription drugs except to pay full price,” she said.

The program’s new version added income eligibility guidelines that were not in the original bill.

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