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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 14, 2007

Illinois Pharmacists Association endorses Governor Blagojevich's Illinois Covered plan
Pharmacists support Illinois Covered and Gross Receipts Tax proposals to ensure that all Illinoisans get the healthcare they need and the care that patients deserve

SPRINGFIELD  - The Illinois Pharmacists Association today endorsed Governor Rod R. Blagojevich’s historic Illinois Covered plan that will provide affordable healthcare coverage to the 1.4 million uninsured adults in Illinois and will also help many middle-income families and small businesses that are currently enrolled in health insurance plans save thousands of dollars a year on healthcare costs. The Pharmacists Association also endorsed the Governor’s Gross Receipts Tax proposal, citing that this funding source is currently the only one advanced that would support Illinois Covered. The Illinois Pharmacists Association, with nearly 2,000 members, is Illinois’ leading professional organization for pharmacists.

“Pharmacists know that without health insurance, the price of prescription drugs can be prohibitively expensive,” said Gov. Blagojevich. “Patients without health insurance are more likely to skip their medication to make ends meet. We’ve put together a plan that will change that – and will make healthcare affordable for every family in Illinois. I am proud to join with the Illinois Pharmacists Association to stand up for affordable healthcare and prescription drugs for working families.”

The cost of healthcare is rising dramatically nationwide, leaving more and more people uninsured, and forcing businesses to drop or significantly cut back coverage. As a result of faster-than-inflation rate increases, the number of uninsured nationally has increased by 6 million since 2000.

In Illinois, there are approximately 1.4 million adults in Illinois who are currently uninsured. A majority, roughly 75%, are from families with moderate incomes. The Governor’s Illinois Covered plan will provide affordable coverage to the uninsured and will also help many middle-income families and small businesses that are currently enrolled in health insurance plans save thousands a year on healthcare costs. The plan will also reform the existing healthcare system to improve quality and require more accountability.

“As pharmacists, our primary focus is patient care. For families that are without affordable healthcare coverage, continuity of patient care does not exist,” said Pharmacist Luke Vander Bleek, President of the Illinois Pharmacists Association. “Unfortunately, families who are uninsured often don’t access healthcare, which not only puts their health and livelihood at risk, but often costs the public by creating complicated medical cases. We support the Governor’s Illinois Covered plan to help every family afford the healthcare they need. Because expanding the affordability of healthcare requires a significant public commitment, and because we are aware of no other proposed funding source, we support the Governor’s Gross Receipts Tax Plan.”

The Association of Indian American Pharmacists of America today also endorsed the Governor’s Illinois Covered initiative and Tax Fairness Plan.

“The Association of Indian Pharmacists in America (AIPHA) supports Illinois Covered as the most comprehensive plan proposed to date to provide health insurance to all Illinoisans, and the Gross Receipts Tax proposal to provide the funding necessary to successfully implement the program,” said Harish Bhatt, Executive Director of the AIPHA. “Many Indian pharmacists almost exclusively serve Medicaid patients. Federal cuts to Medicaid funding have made it more and more difficult for Indian pharmacists to continue to provide important medications to the neediest Illinoisans. We appreciate the Governor’s willingness to address the fiscal challenges we face due to these Medicaid funding cuts and look forward to working with him and his administration to ensure that Illinois Covered delivers quality, affordable healthcare to all Illinoisans.”

Health advocates and provider organizations from around the state have endorsed the Governor’s Illinois Covered plan, including the Illinois Hospital Association, the Illinois Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, AARP Illinois, the Illinois Coalition for School Health Centers, the Illinois Nurses Association, the Illinois Primary Healthcare Association, the Illinois Public Health Association, the Illinois Society for Advance Practice Nurses, the Metropolitan Chicago Healthcare Council, and the National Black Nurses Association. Medical providers, including pharmacists, will receive a boost of nearly $1.7 billion from the Governor’s Illinois Covered plan through new coverage for the uninsured and increased rates for providers.


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