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Local

Rural pharmacies to get financial help from state

State begins implementing $10 million Critical Access Care Pharmacy Program

Andy Manar
Andy Manar

SPRINGFIELD — Independent pharmacies that serve Medicaid patients in small communities in Illinois will soon start receiving additional payments from the state.

The Department of Healthcare and Family Services confirmed June 24 that it has begun implementing a program lawmakers established in 2018 known as the Critical Access Care Pharmacy Program, which provides up to $10 million a year in additional reimbursements for independent, brick and mortar pharmacies located in counties with fewer than 50,000 people.

Under the program, qualifying pharmacies receive quarterly payments from the state, based on the number of prescriptions they fill that are reimbursed by the state’s Medicaid program.

A spokesperson for DHFS said the agency does not have data reflecting how many Illinois pharmacies qualify for the program.

The program was included as part of the budget package that lawmakers approved during the 2018 session. It will be funded for a second year in the budget that took effect July 1.

“This administration worked aggressively to launch this vital program as rapidly as possible, and we are pleased to help support local pharmacies that are so often critical to our members and to communities throughout Illinois,” said John Hoffman, DHFS director of communications and public affairs.

State Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, who pushed for funding of the program, said in a statement that the program is intended to help small, independent pharmacies in small towns stay in business.

“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,” he said. “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.”

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