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Government Affairs Report
What We Know
by Jim Owen and Scott Meyers
It’s early February and no 2016 Illinois budget is in sight. The chasm between the Governor and the Democratic leaders of the General Assembly seems as wide as ever. While more than 70% of government services are being funded by court order, many social service organizations, school districts and universities, and municipalities are sinking deeper and deeper in debt or closing their doors.
As for new legislation, we’ve seen very little as of yet. The House finally met officially on Wednesday, January 27th while the Senate has been in session since the second week of the year. We are anticipating legislation on several pharmacy related issues this session but won’t know the complete extent until the session ends as new issues have been known to appear on the last week or even day of the session.
Here’s what we do know:
Immunization Expansion for Pharmacists – Both ICHP and IPhA will be supporting a bill to expand the ability of pharmacist to immunize children ages 10-13 for all diseases. We know there will be pushback from the pediatricians and the Medical Society, but we will be working with them for a compromise that will expand access without circumventing primary care.
Provider Status and PBM Regulation – Tied together last year because both activities amend the Illinois Insurance Code, these two different issues will probably appear in a bill this spring. IPhA is the initial sponsor, and ICHP will support their efforts while working on a separate bill that focuses on expanding pharmacist care services in general. Both issues will meet resistance from the insurance industry, and the latter will probably catch the eye of the Medical Society.
Pseudoephedrine containing products as Prescription Only – A bill has been introduced already in Indiana, and we saw one two-years ago in Illinois. This is an effort by law enforcement to curb methamphetamine production, sale and abuse in Illinois. With reports nationally that 70-80% of methamphetamine used in the US comes directly from Mexico, we don’t believe this effort will have its intended impact. In addition, increasing costs to patients who use pseudoephedrine containing products will negatively impact overall public health.
Medicaid program revisions – We’re absolutely sure that we will see new attempts to remove many of the changes to the SMART Act of a few years ago that revamped the Medicaid program by among other steps, implementing a 4-drug prior authorization requirement and 3-brand name drug limit to reduce costs. Last year, a handful of bills proposed exempting certain drug classes from the 4-drug limit, removing the 4-drug and 3-brand name drug limits entirely, and adding smoking cessation drugs and OTCs to Medicaid’s approved drug list. With pharmacists under the direction of the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy Drug Information Center, the new program seems to be working without denying any patients their needed medications. ICHP will probably oppose any dismantling of the SMART Act this session.
We’re fairly certain that at least one new issue will pop up, but until February 11th in the House and the 19th in the Senate, we won’t really know. And even then, we may not know for sure until the last vote is cast on the 31st of May! Regardless, we’ll keep you informed and represented.