Evidence of health costs mentioned in President's speech can be found in East Texas

WODEN, TX (KTRE) - Jim Perkins pulls onions from his garden. "I just do this to have something to do," says Perkins as he gathers green onions in a plastic bag. The fresh produce is often the symbolic payment left on the desk of Community Rx employees. The agency makes sure Perkins, his wife and a growing number of clients receive the medications they need. "There are a lot of people I know, no way could afford their medicines," said Perkins. He easily starts naming a sister, neighbor and others who have costly prescriptions that Community Rx is helping.

The Perkins' daughters manage their parent's health care. Rows of prescription bottles line the dining rooms sidebar. "These right here are some of Daddy's," points out Belinda Perkins.  She and her sister know the prescription costs could reach over $1500 dollars a month. "Some of mama's are right here," she says while pointing to even more bottles. Jim is a diabetic. Even with his Medicare, the Perkins can't afford all the medicines. Community Rx connects them with pharmaceutical hardship plans. This reduces payments by more than half the full amount. It's viewed as a life saver. "A lot of medicines get expensive and if they can't get it, well they won't take it and then they'll get sick and they might die," said Belinda. \

The Department of Health and Human Services says health care costs will top $8,000 dollars per person this year. www.healthaffairs.org No surprise to the Community Rx director. "Do you have any idea how much prescriptions cost?," asked Trisha Hand. Taxpayers will be responsible for more than half of the nation's health care bill by 2016. That's just seven years from now. Meanwhile, Community Rx is a non profit that receives no government funding.

The agency's files are growing. More people are losing job-based coverage. Approaching baby boomers not yet old enough for Medicare are also seeking the agency out. "We have people that come from as far away as north of Tyler," said Hand. "We have people that come far away as the Big Thicket area." Community Rx serves clients if they see a doctor in Nacogdoches. Many patients travel the distance because there is a shortage of physicians closer to their homes that accept payment on a sliding scale. Perkins is as close as Woden, where he'll continue to grow vegetables for his family, friends and Community Rx Help. npl.sfasu.edu/communityservices/org/community_rx_help.htm