By Susan Edelman New York Post
A pharmacy near Mount Sinai Hospital is gouging sick 9/11 responders by charging $150 for a simple printout of the medications they take, advocates told The Post.
Madison Avenue Pharmacy, a block from the Upper East Side hospital that treats Ground Zero cops, hard hats and other workers, has filled thousands of prescriptions covered by federal taxpayers.
“It’s a shakedown,” said Joseph Castiglia, a 9/11 crane operator who has patronized Madison Avenue Pharmacy for more than 10 years, taking drugs for brain and kidney cancer.
Castiglia, 62, phoned the pharmacy recently to request a printout of his meds, explaining he needs the records to file a claim with the federal September 11th Victim Compensation Fund.
But, he said, an office worker told him: “Have your lawyer call us. That’s their job. They have to pay for that information.”
Castiglia’s lawyer, Noah Kushlefsky, refused to do so, saying fees to obtain medical records are passed on to clients.
“They’re charging $150 to print out two pages. That’s unconscionable,” the lawyer said.
“They’re making money off the federal government and fleecing the responders.”
CVS and other pharmacies print out the prescription records and hand them over at no charge, Kushlefsky added.
Thousands of responders require the records to prove illness and get financial aid.
Ben Chevat, executive director of 9/11 Health Watch, an organization dedicated to ensuring proper care for 9/11 victims, blasted Madison Avenue Pharmacy.
“They should be ashamed,” he said. “It certainly doesn’t cost $150 to press a few buttons and have a computer print out the records.”
But Richard Schirripa, CEO of Madison Avenue Pharmacy, defended the fee.
“It’s the attorneys trying to get by without paying,” he said. “We’re supposed to do this as a charity and not make a living? We like to get paid for our work.”
Schirripa said a state law requiring that health facilities provide medical records to patients at minimal cost does not cover pharmacies.
That loophole may close. Manhattan Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, chairman of the Health Committee, told The Post he plans to introduce a bill to amend the law to include pharmacies.
“I would hope that common decency and public attention would get this pharmacy to provide the records for free,” Gottfried said.