05152018 Dyer Sullivan 350SPRINGFIELD – Two area pharmacy owners, Michelle Dyer and Owen Sullivan, are working with State Senator Andy Manar and lawmakers to expose how Illinois’ independent drug stores are being forced out of business because of state policies and unfair competition.

Dyer and Sullivan appeared before the Illinois Senate’s Human Services Committee last week to explain the effects of the state’s Medicaid managed care reboot on their small businesses, which serve largely rural areas of Illinois.

The financial crisis local pharmacies are facing has intensified since April 1, when the Rauner administration expanded the Medicaid managed care program to every county in Illinois. Adding to the pressure are rate cuts administered by pharmacy benefit managers, or PBMs.

The result is that local pharmacies have seen drastic cuts in what they are reimbursed for filling Medicaid prescriptions. In many cases they are losing money on the prescriptions they fill.

Dyer, who owns three Michelle’s Pharmacy locations in Macoupin County, employs 15 full-time workers with benefits and provides high-quality health care for rural patients. She’s a first-generation pharmacy owner and has been in business 10 years.

But, she told the Senate committee, because of the state’s managed care changes, the drastic cuts implemented by PBMs and the lack of parity with CVS/Caremark, she and other independent pharmacy owners are being pushed out of business.

“We’re just asking to be appropriately reimbursed for our services and the medication we provide,” she said.

Owen Sullivan, a third-generation pharmacist and the owner of Sullivan’s Drugstore in Carlinville, faces similar struggles.

“What you’re allowing them to do is use state tax dollars to stamp out competition,” he told lawmakers.

Manar is sponsoring House Bill 3479 to address the problem and is engaged in negotiations with pharmacists, managed care organizations, PBMs and the state.

“I have two concerns. We have to have a network of pharmacies in the state to provide medical services. That is being threatened right now because of the implementation of managed care. That’s an indisputable fact,” he said.

“My second concern deals with transparency. Other states have taken steps to make sure the role of PBMs utilizing state tax dollars becomes more transparent. The language of this bill seeks to address both of those concerns.”

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