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Legislation targets middle men who drive up costs to taxpayers, customers, pharmacies

SPRINGFIELD – Pharmacy middle men are driving up the costs of prescription drugs for customers and squeezing out rural pharmacies, all while putting taxpayers on the hook for greater costs, State Senator Andy Manar said.

The Bunker Hill Democrat is renewing his effort to impose state oversight on pharmacy benefit managers, or PBMs, that negotiate drug prices and benefits on behalf of insurance plans. This week he introduced Senate Bill 652. House Majority Leader Greg Harris (D-Chicago) has introduced similar legislation, House Bill 465, in the House.

 “Delivery of health care to rural and underserved communities is at the heart of what this bill is about,” Manar said following a rally with hundreds of pharmacists at the Capitol on Wednesday. “If we don’t change the course we’re on, we’re going to have entire counties in downstate Illinois without a single pharmacist in operation. I’m very alarmed by what we’re seeing.”

Independent pharmacies – many of them small business owners in rural communities – say they are at a disadvantage and are being squeezed out of business because of PBMs’ practices.

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PBMs are largely unregulated and have not been subject to oversight, auditing or transparency laws in Illinois, even though they manage public money through the Medicaid program.

“If PBMs are allowed to carry on and continue stamping out competition and drive up prices, we have to expect there will be fewer small, local pharmacies as time goes on,” Manar said.

A recent audit in Ohio showed that PBMs made more than $224 million off the Medicaid program.

Category: Latest News

ALPLM350SPRINGFIELD – The director of the foundation that supports the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library would be appointed by the governor and subject to Senate approval under legislation proposed by State Senator Andy Manar.

“Frankly, I believe there needs to be a better relationship between the presidential library itself and the foundation that was established to support it,” Manar (D-Bunker Hill) said. “I think it’s time to re-evaluate how these two bodies work together, and this proposal is one way to do that.”

The presidential library foundation is a private, non-profit organization that was established to support the exhibits and programs of the taxpayer-supported Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield. However, numerous reports have detailed a lack of cooperation and communication among the two bodies.

The presidential library and museum operate state under the umbrella of a state agency.

Currently, the presidential library’s board hires the foundation director. Under Manar’s proposal, the governor would nominate a director, and the nomination would go before the Illinois Senate for approval.

“It is my hope that having this nexus would improve the relationship between the two,” Manar said.

Category: Latest News

Manar hearing 350SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) released the following statement on efforts to establish a fair tax system for the people of Illinois:

“For more than a generation Illinois has lurched from one fiscal crisis to the next, in large part due to an outdated tax system that is unfair to the middle class. I applaud Gov. Pritzker for starting this long overdue discussion on how to stabilize our state’s budget. I look forward to working with him to ease the tax burden on 97 percent of working Illinoisans.”

Category: Latest News

Ballot Box 350SPRINGFIELD – Two state senators are embarking on a bipartisan effort to level the playing field for new political parties and independent candidates in Illinois.

State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) and State Senator Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington) have introduced a plan that lowers the number of signatures required for new political parties and independent candidates to be on the ballot. They would need the same number of signatures that is required for established political parties to be on the ballot under the proposal.

“It’s commonsense that all candidates and political parties should have to clear the same hurdles to secure a spot on the ballot,” Manar said. “I have never thought it was fair that some candidates in Illinois have to collect more signatures than others to run for office.”

For example, in 2018, candidates with established political parties were required to collect between 5,000 and 10,000 signatures to run for statewide office, but independent candidates and those with new parties had to collect 25,000.

Senate Bill 141 is a matter of fairness, Barickman said.

“Competitive elections make for a stronger democracy, and I think reducing some of the hurdles for candidates to participate is a good step in that direction,” Barickman said. “I believe this is an idea that should receive bipartisan support and I’m optimistic that we will be able to advance this legislation.”

Category: Latest News

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