Contributed article by the Illinois Senate Democrats.
SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Pharmacists Association honored State Senator Andy Manar last week with its Honorary Co-President Award for his work on behalf of local pharmacists in Illinois. Manar has ushered through legislation that has positively impacted pharmacies in rural and underserved communities.
“The rising costs associated with prescription medication are hurting consumers and pharmacists alike, and that’s why I’ve focused on doing everything I can to protect Illinoisans from out of control drug expenses and keeping local, independent pharmacists in business,” said Manar, a Bunker Hill Democrat. “It’s an honor to be recognized for that work and I want to thank the Illinois Pharmacists Association for selecting me for this award.”
In 2017, Manar fought for the creation of Illinois’ Critical Access Pharmacy Program in the state budget, which provides support to small business owners to help keep pharmacies open in underserved areas.
Although funding for the program was initially delayed under the administration of former Gov. Bruce Rauner, Manar successfully pressed Gov. JB Pritzker to jumpstart the program. The Department of Healthcare and Family Services released $10 million this year to assist local pharmacies.
This spring, Manar passed legislation that would impose Illinois’ first ever regulations on pharmacy benefit managers (PBMS), which drive up the cost of prescription drugs and eliminate competition from small, independent pharmacies. The legislation included several measures aimed at reducing the influence of PBMs, including a provision eliminating the gag clause that prevents pharmacists from suggesting lower cost medications for patients.
It was signed into law by Pritzker in August.
Manar is also concerned with the skyrocketing costs associated with insulin, and is currently working on legislation that would bring financial relief to diabetics by capping out of pocket costs for the medication at $100 for a thirty-day supply.
A vote is expected on the legislation when lawmakers return to Springfield in late October.
“Illinois pharmacies and patients are fortunate to have such a dedicated and passionate champion as Sen. Manar,” said Garth Reynolds, executive director of the Illinois Pharmacists Association. “The Illinois Pharmacists Association is honored to bestow Sen. Manar with the 2019 Honorary President Award [along with State Representative Greg Harris] and we look forward to continue to work together to advocate for preserving access to community pharmacies and advancing patient care.”