When James Welch’s mother was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in 2006 he had no idea how much her medications would cost. Even though his mother, Terry Welch, had good insurance, her prescription costs still were about $150 out-pocket each month. Seeing first hand the hardship out-of-pocket prescription costs cause families dealing with MS each month, Welch along with three other individuals formed the MS Assistance Foundation.
The foundation raises money to assist low income families who have a family member with MS. The foundation helps pay prescription costs and other medical bills the families struggle to pay.
MS is a disease that affects the central nervous system. The disease affects muscle control and strength, vision, balance and thinking. The effects of MS vary with each person. A person can go through his or her life with only mild symptoms or a can also become disabled.
“A lot of people with MS have a hard time financially because they have to take a lot of prescriptions,” Welch said. “Insurance typically will not pay for a lot of the medications. I saw this first hand with my mother. So a year ago my mother, two other ladies and I started this organization to help.”
Welch said before the organization gives assistance to a person suffering from MS, the person or their family must submit an application.
“I usually meet in person with all of the applicants,” Welch said. “We want to make sure we are helping people who are trying to help themselves, and not someone who is just trying to live off of the system.”
He said out-of-pocket medication costs can range between $150-$200 for some people with MS. The group tries to cover most if not all of those costs for applicants.
“We can either reimburse the person or family for the prescriptions and care, or pay for it directly,” he said.
Welch said initially the group raised a significant amount of money within a short period. He estimated the group raised about $4,800 within two to three months.
“We went to a lot of small companies and got donations,” he said. “We also had bake sales and other fundraisers. Within the past six months, we have gotten flooded with e-mails from families who need help. Our funds are pretty much depleted at this point.”
He said the group has helped people from both St. Francois and Jefferson County so far.
The MS Assistance Foundation is in need of donations and applications from those needing assistance who have MS. For more information about making a donation or to submit an application call 573-366-0036 or e-mail email@example.com.