CAP paymentsSPRINGFIELD - To ensure the stability of small, independent pharmacies through the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, Illinois State Comptroller Susana Mendoza is releasing nearly $1 million to critical access pharmacies in rural and underserved communities.

The move comes one day after State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) penned a letter to Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services Director Theresa Eagleson urging her office to expedite payments under the Critical Access Pharmacy Program as a way to help bolster rural pharmacies as they brace for the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic into their communities.

"For rural Illinois families, the nearest hospital can be miles away in a different community, meaning pharmacies are the only local source of health care and medical relief," Manar said. "As this pandemic spreads into rural Illinois communities, the importance of keeping small, local pharmacies stable cannot be overstated. Expediting CAP payments is a major help, and I appreciate the Pritzker administration’s swift action.”

The payments are being released under the Critical Access Pharmacy program for pharmacies that are determined by the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services to be located in medically underserved areas of the state. Manar, a leading advocate of the CAP program, negotiated its renewed funding in​ the state’s fiscal year 2019 budget to support independent pharmacies.

These supplemental state payments will assist small, independently owned pharmacies that have experienced serious financial difficulty because of lower rates offered under the state's managed care program and also because of rate cuts by pharmacy benefit managers.

"Locally owned pharmacies - often the only pharmacies available for miles in any direction - are vital to stopping the spread of the coronavirus in rural communities," Mendoza said. "It's more important than ever that we ensure these payments continue to go out so these small businesses can continue to be there for the people they serve."

This is the third disbursement to critical access pharmacies under the program. The comptroller released $4.7 million in payments on July 1 and $1.9 million on Dec. 10.

3 Coronavirus Graphics FB

What is coronavirus?

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), coronaviruses commonly cause mild to moderate illness in people worldwide. Most of the time, they aren't much different from a cold or flu virus— coronavirus symptoms may include fever, cough and shortness of breath, and usually only last for a short amount of time. There are no specific treatments for coronavirus, but to relieve symptoms, patients are instructed to take pain and fever medications, drink plenty of liquids, and stay home and rest.

What’s the status of coronavirus in Illinois?

Currently, the number of coronavirus cases in the state remains low, but it continues to climb. The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has posted coronavirus case totals and test results on its website, updated daily.

Is Illinois prepared to handle a potential outbreak?

Illinois health officials have acted swiftly to contain the virus, and they are prepared for the future. Illinois was the first state to provide coronavirus testing, and hospitals and health providers across the region are already expanding their surveillance efforts by offering patients with flu-like symptoms the option to be tested for the virus. IDPH has outfitted two additional labs in central and southern Illinois to handle the extra testing load.

On March 9, Gov. Pritzker issued a statewide Disaster Proclamation, which will allow Illinois to receive federal resources and support to advance preparation and planning. This declaration will build on the state's strong response to the outbreak.

How do I know if my family and I are at risk?

Public health officials will reach out to individuals who may have been exposed. They are actively monitoring the situation and will update the public in the event that certain measures— like school and business closures— are necessary.

How does coronavirus spread?

According to the CDC, coronavirus mainly spreads from person to person. Act the same way you would act if you had the flu— if you think you may be sick, keep your distance from other people and always cover your coughs and sneezes.

How can I stay healthy?

The IDPH and the CDC have issued recommendations to help people avoid coming down with coronavirus. Keep in mind: These tips are helpful for avoiding any virus, including the flu and the common cold!

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

What should I do if I have symptoms?

COVID 19 symptoms

If you think you or a family member are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, please contact your healthcare provider, who will determine whether you need testing. If you don’t have a primary care physician, you can contact the Illinois Department of Public Health 24/7 hotline at 1-800-889-3931 or via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

If I get sick, will insurance cover my care?

If you have questions regarding health insurance and HMO inquiries, please call the Illinois Department of Insurance at (877) 527-9431. If you have questions regarding Medicare beneficiaries and caregiver inquiries, please call CMS at (800) 548-9034.

What if I have have a family member that belongs to a vulnerable population?

The State and the City of Chicago continue to focus outreach efforts for those most vulnerable to severe illness from the coronavirus, our elderly and immunocompromised residents. Individuals who fall into these categories should take extra caution when attending gatherings of any size and avoid exposure to large groups of people whenever possible.The state has implemented new staffing procedures and strict guidelines restricting visitors at state-operated long-term care facilities and is also working closely with private nursing home and assisted living associations on the adoption of similar guidelines.

With questions and concerns about coronavirus, please call the IDPH 24/7 hotline at 1-800-889-3931 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Manar Reed

SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) welcomed Chatham Glenwood High School junior Fiona Reed to the Capitol on Wednesday as part of his Future Leaders program.

Fiona, 17, fosters kittens for the local Animal Protective League, and will be an Election Day registrar during the March 17 primaries. She’s also a member of the Chatham Glenwood High School Key Club, which provides community service and works to raise funds for organizations such as Children's Miracle Network, March of Dimes, UNICEF, Special Olympics and Thirst Project.

“As a junior in high school, she’s putting her values into action and sticking to them, which is the foundation of true leadership,” Manar said. “Given her strong sense of initiative and demonstrated commitment to community service, we can all learn a thing or two from Fiona’s example.”

Manar conducted a one-on-one interview – a tradition of his Future Leaders program – about Fiona’s plans for her future and what prompted her sense of civic duty.

Fiona shadowed Manar for the day, joining him in committee meetings and on the Senate floor where she met other state lawmakers and observed them as they debated and voted on legislation. Manar also presented her with a certificate of recognition for her exemplary service to the Springfield and Chatham communities.

Manar

SPRINGFIELD – Illinois Medicaid recipients considering clinical trials for cancer treatment would no longer face possible rejection of coverage for care under legislation advanced out of the Senate Human Services Committee by State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) on Wednesday.

“Access to the latest, most advanced cancer treatments can mean the difference between life and death for patients,” Manar said. “I take issue with the fact that some people are granted that access and others aren’t, simply depending on which insurance plan they have. This legislation solves that.”

An initiative of the American Cancer Society, Senate Bill 2499 requires Medicaid to cover routine care costs incurred for an approved clinical trial involving the prevention, detection, or treatment of cancer or any other life-threatening disease, as long as Medicaid would normally cover those same routine care costs for a non-clinical procedure.

“Because Medicaid beneficiaries tend to be lower income and more diverse, ensuring their participation in clinical trials makes it more likely that new therapies will be tested in a representative population,” said Shana Crews, the Illinois Government Relations Director for the American Cancer Society. “With this bill, the legislature has an opportunity to ensure the viability of new cancer research in our state and to allow an additional one in five Illinois residents to have access to these new, potentially lifesaving treatments and therapies.”

More than 20% of Illinoisans are covered by Medicaid, making it the second largest type of insurance behind Medicare.

Medicare and private insurance carriers are already required to provide coverage for routine care costs in clinical trial participation. SB 2499 would align Medicaid coverage for clinical trials with coverage under those insurance plans. 

If passed, SB 2499 would make Illinois the 14th state Medicaid program – including the District of Columbia – to cover clinical trials for Medicaid beneficiaries.

Because routine costs would be paid for by Medicaid if the patient were not on a clinical trial, there is minimal cost differential for Medicaid to cover these costs within a clinical trial.

SB 2499 will now move to the Senate floor for consideration.

COVID19 Updates

 

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