09162019CM0174PEORIA – State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) gathered with fellow state lawmakers and diabetes health advocates in Peoria Monday to urge support for a new measure aimed at reducing the skyrocketing cost of insulin.

“There are people in this state who have to choose between buying their prescription insulin and paying for groceries or making their mortgage payment,” Manar said. “These prices are absolutely out of control and we have a responsibility as lawmakers to take immediate action to ensure that every person has access to the care they need.”

Senate Bill 667, introduced by Manar, would cap out of pocket insulin expenses at $100 for a 30-day supply.

Manar was joined by State Sen. Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) and State Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth (D-Peoria) to push for the legislation’s passage and hear from individuals who have been directly impacted by rising insulin costs.

“It’s been 10 years since the insulin I need to survive was only $800. Now it cost $1800,” said Megan Blair, a single mother who has experienced firsthand the consequences of rising insulin costs. “Something needs to change. Something has to be done about this.”

According to the American Diabetes Association, there are over 30 million Americans who have diabetes, 7.4 million of which require prescription insulin every day to survive. However, the increasing costs associated with the medication have led many patients to ration their supply or seek care outside of the country.

“For far too long pharmaceutical companies have been allowed to take advantage of people who require this medication to live, and it’s unacceptable,” Koehler said. “Working to ease the financial burden on families who require prescription insulin is the humane thing to do.”

The legislation would make Illinois just the second state in the country to cap out of pocket insulin expenses. Colorado became the first to do so earlier this year.

“We cannot continue to sit back and allow drug companies to charge exorbitant prices on lifesaving medication that people depend on every day,” said State Rep. Guzzardi, the lead sponsor of the bill in the House. “Instead of crushing Illinois consumers to pad corporate profits, let’s take real action to prioritize the actual health and well-being of Illinois residents who rely on insulin.”

The legislation has also garnered the support of several advocacy organizations, including the American Diabetes Association, Illinois State Medical Society, Illinois Pharmacists Association and AARP.

“AARP Illinois supports this measure on behalf of our 1.7 million members, many of whom have told us about the hardships they face in paying for their prescription drugs,” said State Director Bob Gallo. “We commend Sen. Manar, Rep. Guzzardi, and other legislators for recognizing that everyday Illinois residents are having to make heartbreaking choices about whether to pay for medicine or other basic necessities with their fixed incomes. And we hope that SB 667 will be a stepping stone to getting further reforms that will lower the cost of prescription drugs for everyone.”

Category: Latest News

09102019CM0516STAUNTON – State Senator Andy Manar was joined by superintendents from Macoupin County school districts today to announce a new state grant for the newly created South Macoupin Consortium for Innovation and Career Pathways.

Manar secured the $2 million grant in his role as a chief negotiator of the state’s new bipartisan budget. The funding will be used to assist the Consortium with the implementation of these new programs and fund potential capital improvements to career and technical education facilities.

“The boards and administrations of these schools have done an excellent job of coming together to provide new opportunities for Macoupin County students,” said Manar, a Bunker Hill Democrat. “This additional funding will give them a boost as they work to implement these new programs.”

The Consortium was formed by the school districts of Bunker Hill, Carlinville, Gillespie, Mt. Olive, Southwestern and Staunton to help expand career and technical education offerings for Macoupin County students.

Macoupin County superintendents say the Consortium and the new grant allow them to fill a needed gap for students who are not currently being served by a regional vocational education center.

“I am thankful for the work that our school districts and Senator Manar have done to this point in order to collaborate together to offer career pathways to students in rural communities. Career pathways is an important step for our districts and rural communities,” said Staunton Superintendent Dan Cox. “We must now look at how we design our high school programming to prepare our students for their futures, whether that be college, trade school, military, or directly to their chosen career, we want to prepare them for success.”

“Mt. Olive School District is excited to be a member of the South Macoupin Consortium for Innovation and Career Pathways,” said Mt. Olive Superintendent Patrick Murphy. “A student at Mt. Olive High School will have the opportunity to choose from the unique curriculums of 6 different high schools while having all the benefits of attending a smaller high school."

“I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity to truly enrich the educational experiences of the students of Bunker Hill High School.  Once again, State Senator Manar has accomplished another major “win” for public schools, this time addressing a void that has existed in our schools,” said Bunker Hill Superintendent Todd Dugan. “Now we can look to expand our offerings in vocational courses, and will be better able to do our jobs as public schools: unleash every student’s full potential.”

“The much needed funding will be used to update and expand our equipment technology for our vocational department,” said Southwestern Superintendent Kyle Hacke. “It’s imperative that our students be trained using relevant methods and tools.” 

Category: Latest News

03122019CM0766SPRINGFIELD – A measure sponsored by State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) that would provide relief for independent, rural pharmacies was signed into law by Gov. JB Pritzker Friday.

Pharmacy benefit managers, or PBMs, which negotiate drug prices on behalf of insurers, are currently using their position to drive up prices and eliminate competition, putting local pharmacies at a disadvantage.

House Bill 465 includes several provisions that will impose Illinois’ first ever oversight on PBMs, including:

  • Eliminating the gag clause that prevents pharmacists from suggesting lower cost prescriptions to patients;
  • Preventing consumers entering the emergency room from being denied coverage; and
  • Improving pricing transparency and saving state money by requiring the Department of Healthcare and Family Services to approve contracts that impact the state’s Medicaid program.

 “It’s vital for consumers, taxpayers and pharmacies to curtail the PBM abuse which is costing Illinois hundreds of millions of dollars annually,” said Owen Sullivan, who operates Sullivan Drugs in Carlinville. “We’re lucky to have a champion like Sen. Manar who will stand up for the businesses and constituents of Illinois against this corporate greed.”

In some rural communities, artificially high drug prices have caused local pharmacies to close, forcing consumers to travel miles to purchase needed medications.

“PBMs are creating unprofitable environments that make it difficult to sustain business for independent pharmacies, and the result is that we’re seeing these businesses closing all the time in Central Illinois,” said Michelle Dyer, who operates Michelle’s Pharmacy in Carlinville, Gillespie and Bunker Hill. “This is a great step to reign in the abusive powers that PBMs use against independent pharmacies.”

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.

“PBMs line their pockets at the expense of small businesses and consumers who have no choice but to buy lifesaving drugs at exorbitant prices,” Manar said. “For years these middle men have been able to exert their influence on the pharmaceutical industry with essentially no oversight. It’s time to crack down on unfair practices that target some of the most vulnerable people in our communities.”

House Bill 465 will go into effect January 1, 2020.

Category: Latest News

04122019CM0717SPRINGFIELD – Teachers will see an increase to their minimum salary under a new law sponsored by State Sen. Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) and signed by Gov. JB Pritzker.

“We’re facing a severe teacher shortage in Illinois and increasing their salaries is just one way we can attract and retain qualified teachers in this state,” Manar said. “We need to start taking this problem seriously and this legislation is a good step toward solving it.”

House Bill 2078 will increase the minimum salary for teachers to $40,000 over a four year period.

Illinois had not updated its minimum teacher salary since 1980. Since that time, state statute has mandated that that Illinois school districts pay teachers with a bachelor’s degree a minimum of only $10,000.

 “This is a long-needed change and I’m glad to see that both sides of the aisle came forward to support this legislation,” Manar said. “We’re showing that we value teachers in Illinois and that’s going to go a long way toward attracting qualified teachers in Illinois and convincing young people to consider a career in education.”

Under the measure, the state would update the minimum mandated salary for teachers annually over four years, beginning with the 2020-2021 school year. After that, subject to review by the General Assembly, it would be increased according to the Consumer Price Index. The phase-in would look like this under the proposal:

  • $32,076 for the 2020-2021 school year;
  • $34,576 for the 2021-2022 school year;
  • $37,076 for the 2022-2023 school year; and
  • $40,000 for the 2023-2024 school year;
Category: Latest News

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