Roughly 70,000 uninsured District residents now have access to a prescription drug discount card that has no income or age requirement, D.C. officials announced Wednesday.

With the DC Rx card, cardholders can save an average 20 percent on the retail cost of a prescribed medication, proponents say, though the ultimate break will vary. The free card requires no enrollment form and is accepted at 98 percent of all local pharmacies, including CVS and Giant stores.

"This card will be very useful to people with moderate income who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, but still can't afford insurance," Mayor Anthony Williams said.

The program is operated through the National Association of Counties and administered by Caremark Rx Inc. It is financed through bulk drug purchases and smaller transactions fees - not taxpayers.

The District joins dozens of U.S. counties, including Montgomery and Prince George's, who already are members of the discount program.

Some 14,000 city residents earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but remain without health coverage. The card also can be used by insured residents to save on non-covered medications, or by anyone for prescribed pet drugs.

D.C. Council Member David Catania, chairman of the health committee, said the discount is "really the difference between life and death."

"It's a small step, but it is one ... that will have terrific benefits for everyone," Catania said.

To obtain a card, call the D.C. Pharmaceutical Resource Center hot line at 202-481-1430. For more information, visit doh.dc.gov.