It will prove a bittersweet transition for State Representative Sid Miller who is to appear at his bon voyage reception at the City Limits/City Hall Thursday evening. A new lease on life he has begun to embrace coupled with the poignancy of saying goodbye to constituents is paramount on the mind of the representative as he bids his leave.
After six terms of service to his district, a total of 12 years, he has segued into a concentration of advocacy for those in need of a voice via a private company.
“No one likes to lose, and it was tough for about the first 30 days,” Miller said of his defeat in his race against Dr. J.D. Sheffield. “But I'm excited about a new company I've started for consulting, advocacy and lobbying. I’ve spent the last three days in Austin, trying to help some people - advocacy for law enforcement, agricultural issues and privacy issues.”
Throughout his dozen years representing his district, Miller has been instrumental in the passing of many laws.
“I’m proud of all of them,” he said. “But I think a couple have had the most impact. One of the most recent is House Bill 15 - better known as the sonogram bill. It’s a pro life measure.”
Miller consistently sought to protect the interests and rights of the disenfranchised.
“When I first got elected, people - mainly seniors - came to me and told me they had a real tough time paying for prescription medication. They were cutting their pills in half and had to decide whether to buy groceries or medication.
“So I started calling the major pharmaceutical companies. I told them we have people who are falling through the cracks - they don’t qualify for government assistance, yet they don’t have enough money to have health insurance. Some are insured but underinsured. Even with insurance they can’t afford it.”
Those calls would reveal some interesting information.
“Everyone of them said, ‘We’ve got a program for those people,'” Miller reported. “They told me they give away free drugs or reduced cost drugs to people just like that. But no one knew.”
He was told seniors could go to the pharmaceuticals' websites and fill out forms to let the companies know what medications they needed.
As a result of his new knowledge, Miller went on to develop and steer the adoption of the now defunct Texas Cares Program.
“Actually, the situation gets better,” he explained. “I had set up a clearing house where people could go online or call a 1-800 number to the Texas Department of Aging and report the medicines they used and be signed up.
“Well the drug companies, after our doing this, contacted us saying, 'We like this?it gives us a lot of good press. We are going to take this program nationwide.'”
The resulting program is called Partnership for Prescription Assistance and can be contacted at 1-888-4-PPA-NOW.
“Since its inception, they’ve either given away or offered at reduced cost $4 billion worth of drugs at no cost to the tax payers,” Miller explained.
It was the Texas Cares Program model the pharmaceuticals used in developing their own plan of action.
Miller doesn't foresee his life taking on a slower pace anytime soon, and he is determined to continue to be a champion for Texans.
“I will be as busy or more busy than I ever was,” he said. “For 12 years I have been honored to do what I have been doing. But I’m excited about my new direction.”