March 20, 2020

SPRINGFIELD – Illinois State Comptroller Susana Mendoza is releasing nearly $1 million to critical access pharmacies, which are offering frontline health care throughout rural Illinois as a dangerous pandemic sweeps the nation. 

Mendoza directed the release of $946,000 in payments this week. The payments will come from deposits into the state’s rainy day fund from statewide cannabis sales. State law requires a portion of cannabis sales be put into the rainy day fund every month. In March, a total of $1.1 million was deposited into the fund. 

“Our ongoing effort to support rural pharmacies that are being squeezed out by unfair competition and managed care policies now takes on added importance as communities fight the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus,” Mendoza said. 

“Locally owned pharmacies – often the only pharmacies available for miles in any direction – are vital to stopping the spread of the coronavirus in rural communities. It’s more important than ever that we ensure these payments continue to go out so these small businesses can continue to be there for the people they serve.” 

The payments are being released under the Critical Access Pharmacy program for pharmacies that are determined by the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services to be located in medically underserved areas of the state. 

These supplemental state payments will assist small, independently owned pharmacies that have experienced serious financial difficulty because of lower rates offered under the state’s managed care program and also because of rate cuts by pharmacy benefit managers. 

This is the third disbursement to critical access pharmacies under the program. The comptroller released $4.7 million in payments on July 1 and $1.9 million on Dec. 10. 

The Illinois Pharmacists Association thanked Mendoza for her continued support on behalf of community pharmacies and especially those that benefit directly from the Critical Access Pharmacy fund. 

“Comptroller Mendoza recognizes the unfair business practices that have pushed pharmacies to the financial brink and inability to properly serve their patients,” said Garth Reynolds, executive director of the Illinois Pharmacists Association. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic is a prime example of why community pharmacists are vital frontline health care providers in delivering medication and patient care services. Critical access pharmacies will use the released funds to keep their doors open during the pandemic and serve their patients’ needs.”