EVANSTON, Ill. – In a crowded gymnasium at the Levy Senior Center in Evanston, Ill., Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today talked with senior citizens and answered their questions about the long-anticipated Illinois Rx Buying Club, a new program that is expected to save seniors and people with disabilities in the state steep discounts at the pharmacy. Staff from the Illinois Department on Aging and representatives from the Area Aging Network were on hand to help individuals fill out registration forms.
“As I’m sure most of you are well aware, prescription drug prices are soaring out of control. That’s a huge problem for many people in Illinois, but especially for our seniors,” Blagojevich said. “In Illinois, about one out of every three people over 65 has no prescription drug coverage whatsoever. And for too many of those people, the price tag on their prescription drugs has simply gone out of reach. So they have to choose: Do I buy my medications, or do I pay my heating bill? Do I buy my medications, or do I pay my property taxes? Do I buy my medications – or do I buy food?”
“That’s just not right. You know it, and I know it. So today, I am very proud to invite you to join the Illinois Rx Buying Club. The idea is simple; we ask the two million senior and disabled citizens of Illinois to join forces with state employees and others covered by the state’s health programs. Then – with all that massive combined buying power – we go to the pharmaceutical companies and say: If you’ll provide a substantial discount on your products, we can deliver millions of Illinois customers through our state buying club. And if you refuse to give us all a good break on the price, we’ll take our business to your competitors.”
Blagojevich pushed for passage of the new program during the 2003 spring legislative session, and signed it into law in June.
The new Rx Buying Club – which went into effect on January 1 – is open to all Illinois residents who are 65 or older and the disabled for an annual administrative fee of $25. Unlike the Circuit Breaker and SeniorCare programs, the new discount card program is not income-based.
Already, the state’s 57,000 Circuit Breaker participants have been automatically enrolled in the new program so they will receive discounts on drugs that are not fully covered by the income-based program. An additional 1,200 individuals enrolled in the program during its first week, and another 4,600 have called the hotline for enrollment information.
The Buying Club provides members immediate savings based on rebates the program’s private administrator, SavRx, has already negotiated with drug manufacturers. The state will negotiate additional rebates by combining the market leverage of Illinois’ seniors and disabled with that of more than 500,000 individuals in other state-sponsored programs.
Individuals who are eligible for the new Rx Buying Club can find out if the program makes economic sense for them by asking their retail pharmacist to look up their potential savings based on the drugs that are prescribed to them. Enrollment information and a list of participating retail pharmacies are available by calling toll-free 1-866-215-3462, or on the web at www.IllinoisRxBuyingClub.com