03132019CM1376SPRINGFIELD, Illinois – There’s some hope on the horizon for scores of Illinois residents who are the victims of growing drug prices and shrinking numbers of available pharmacies.

State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) today announced that the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services is finally implementing the Critical Access Pharmacy Program, providing $10 million in additional funding to keep rural, independent pharmacies open.

Throughout rural Illinois communities, consumers have experienced skyrocketing drug prices because of the poorly-regulated Pharmacy Benefit Manager (PBM) industry. PBM operations craft special deals with large corporate chain stores that small, independent and locally-owned operations can’t compete with. As a result, the small businesses are closing their doors and residents are forced to travel long distances to get the medications they need.

“Rural, independent pharmacies have long been at a disadvantage and some people in my district have been left with no options for miles around,” said State Senator Andy Manar, a Bunker Hill Democrat. “If we don’t take action now, we’re going to see costs continue to rise and competition continue to be stamped out.”

The Critical Access Pharmacy Program was included as a part of last year’s state budget, but implementation was stalled by then-governor Bruce Rauner. Today the effort is back online and Manar says he’s hopeful the quick implementation will provide much-needed relief for local pharmacies.

“This funding is going to be a major boost for rural pharmacies and will help keep them open while we find ways to combat the rising cost of prescription drugs,” said Manar, who helped ensure the inclusion of the funding in the budget. “I’m glad to see that we’re finally leaving the gridlock of the past behind and bringing this needed program to communities that are at risk of losing their local pharmacies.”

Manar also passed legislation, House Bill 465, this spring that would create a framework allowing the state to regulate PBMs, which negotiate drug prices and benefits on behalf on insurers to increase profit margins.

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.

By increasing the prices of prescription medication, they often drive out competition, particularly in underserved rural areas.

“These middle men have been able to influence this industry essentially unchecked and it’s consumers who are bearing the brunt of the cost,” Manar said. “These practices are unfair and exploitative and I’m proud to sponsor legislation that will give us the authority to crack down on bad actors.”

House Bill 465 is currently awaiting the governor’s signature.

Category: Latest News

04122019CM0717SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Andy Manar expressed his congratulations today to two Central Illinois educators and 48th District residents on their appointment and swearing in to the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) this spring.

“It was important to me that rural school districts in Downstate Illinois were represented on the State Board of Education and I expressed that sentiment to Governor Pritzker.  I applaud the Governor’s appointment of Susan Morrison and Dr. David Lett who will be strong voices for small schools while balancing the needs of the entire state,” said Manar.

Susan Morrison, of Carlinville, and David Lett, of Rochester, are among seven newly sworn in members who will serve four-year terms on the State Board of Education.

Morrison, who was first appointed to the board in 2017, has worked as an Illinois educator and an advocate for children for nearly 40 years. She began her career in education in the Central Illinois communities of Homer and Girard as a social studies teacher and later worked as a building principal and director of curriculum and instruction.

Morrison also has statewide experience in education, serving as state director for several state and federal programs, including gifted education and school improvement. She retired from ISBE in 2015 as deputy superintendent and chief education officer before returning to serve on the board.

“Susan Morrison’s extensive experience prepared her well for her first two years on the board, during which she demonstrated how capable she is at addressing problems facing public education in Illinois,” said Manar, a Bunker Hill Democrat. “She is more than deserving of another four years in her position, and I’m confident that she will continue to show leadership and effectively advocate on behalf of Illinois’ students and faculty.”

Dr. David Lett, who is serving his first term on the Board, has dedicated over 35 years as a teacher and leader in both K-12 schools and higher education. He began his career as a social science teacher before serving as a principal and assistant principal.

Lett also spent 16 years as superintendent of Pana Community Unit School District 8. He was one of the Central Illinois superintendents who approached Manar in 2012 about the need for a complete re-write of the school funding formula.  Dr. Lett is currently an adjunct professor in the Education Leadership Department at the University of Illinois Springfield.

“With over three decades of experience in education at the local level as both a teacher and an administrator, Dr. Lett understands better than just about anyone the challenges school districts face,” Manar said. “He will be an excellent addition to the board, he will represent Downstate Illinois with a strong voice, and I look forward to working with him to fight for Illinois schools.”

Category: Latest News

04102019CW0188SPRINGFIELD – Sections of two Illinois highways will be renamed for fallen Macoupin County soldiers under legislation sponsored by State Senator Andy Manar and approved by the General Assembly this spring.

Senate Joint Resolution 9 designates Illinois Route 159 between Detour Road and Illinois Route 16 in Bunker Hill as “Lance Cpl. Charles Heinemeier Memorial Highway.”

Heinemeier enlisted in the U.S. Marines in May of 1968 and attended his basic training in California. Six months later, he was sent to Vietnam.

The Bunker Hill native was killed in action on August 19, 1969 while serving with the 1st Marine Division in Quang Nam, Vietnam.

Heinemeier was remembered by his fellow soldiers as having a positive attitude even in the midst of difficult circumstances.

“Your son was our morale booster,” Heinemeier’s commanding office wrote to his mother after his death. “We wouldn’t have made it through without him.”

Heinemeier was posthumously awarded three Bronze Stars and the Purple Heart.

“Cpl. Heinemeier is an example to us all with his positive attitude and his commitment to serving our country,” said Manar, a Bunker Hill Democrat. “It’s only appropriate that we honor him and the sacrifice he made on our behalf.”

Manar also sponsored House Joint Resolution 21, which renames part of Illinois Route 16 in Shipman “Sgt. Glenard Jay Gregory Memorial Road.”

Gregory started his tour of Vietnam in May of 1968 and was injured in combat on April 19, 1969. He passed away from his wounds a day later at the age of 20, just days before he was scheduled to return home.

He was awarded the Vietnam Campaign Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal, the National Defense Medal, the Purple Hear Medal, the Good Conduct Medal, the Expert Sharpshooter Medal and the Bronze Star.

“Sgt. Gregory was a hero, and his tragic death is a story that was all too familiar during the Vietnam War,” Manar said. “It’s our responsibility to keep his memory alive and remind others of the sacrifice he made in service to his country.”

Gregory is buried in Shipman Cemetery and is honored on Panel 26w, Line 15 of the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C.

Manar said that constituents including area veterans, relatives, and friends of both Heinemeier and Gregory approached him with the idea of designating the roads.

The resolutions direct the Illinois Department of Transportation to erect signage to appropriately designate both routes as directed by the General Assembly.

Category: Latest News

 IMG 1426CARLINVILLE – One of the most historically significant sites in Illinois and seat of Macoupin County government, the Macoupin County Courthouse, is set to receive a $1 million investment for its restoration under the recently passed capital infrastructure plan.

As the only Democratic budget negotiator from downstate, State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) advocated for this and other important downstate projects while negotiating this year’s balanced budget and capital plan.

"Macoupin County is my home. I love this place beyond words, and I will always go to bat for the people of Macoupin County. This is just one important piece of a bipartisan balanced budget, and it is important to me that downstate Illinois sees its fair share of investment,” Manar said. “It is my hope that with this investment, along with the leadership of Sheriff Kahl and the County Board, our courthouse will get the repairs needed to preserve our unique history while keeping it operational for generations to come."

Manar also has personal ties to the courthouse, as he served as chairman of the Macoupin County Board from 2003 to 2012.

“This additional funding will be a major boost for one of our county’s most treasured historic sites,” said Macoupin County Sheriff Shawn Kahl, who worked with Manar to secure the funding. “We have one of the oldest and most beautiful

courthouses in the entire state, and I’m glad to see that the state is committed to preserving a major part of Macoupin County history.”
The Macoupin County Courthouse is on the National Register of Historic Places and has been named one of Illinois’ great places by the American Institute of Architects. Years of delayed maintenance on the building, however, have left it in need of repairs.

“The nearly 150-year-old Macoupin County Courthouse is among the most remarkable National Register-listed buildings in the state of Illinois,” said Bonnie McDonald, Landmarks Illinois President & CEO. “Its story is like no other, and its unparalleled architectural, historic and community significance led Landmarks Illinois to make one of our largest grants in 2011 to help the County restore the north stairwell. The State of Illinois and champion Senator Andy Manar are to be commended for investing in the courthouse’s future and the jobs and tourism dollars that it will provide, benefiting the people of Macoupin County.”

The dollar amount of the investment is a nod to the courthouse’s original construction cost in 1870, garnering it the nickname, “Million Dollar Courthouse.”

Category: Latest News

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