Advances Healthcare Equity; Increases Affordability and Transparency for Prescription Drugs

Building on efforts to expand health equity across Illinois, Governor JB Pritzker today signed a package of legislation addressing financial obstacles in accessing healthcare, while increasing transparency for purchasing prescription drugs. The legislation, including House Bill 119, Senate Bill 1682, and House Bill 1745, provides hardworking families the tools they need to manage their prescription drug costs while helping to curb out-of-pocket costs.


“Lowering healthcare costs for Illinois families remains one of my top priorities, and I’m proud we’re advancing this mission by putting patients first,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “The legislation I’m signing today not only lowers costs but increases access to life-saving prescription drugs — because healthcare should be a right for all, not a privilege for a few. This is yet another step to ensure every Illinoisan can live a healthy life.”


House Bill 119


To ensure prescription medication can be safely repurposed for residents in need, HB 119 formalizes the legal process for donating unused prescription drugs to certified pharmacies or health departments.


By establishing a prescription drug repository program, prescription and over-the-counter medication that remain unexpired and unopened can be returned to pharmacies and reused for eligible populations.


The legislation establishes safeguards regarding the donation and receipt of donated drugs, such as prohibiting the resale or repackaging of the donated drug. Additional guidelines include detailed record keeping for this program and an immunity provision for the recipient and manufacturer of the donated drugs. This measure is another way to help individuals who are unable to access or afford their life-saving medication.


“As we fight to lower the cost of prescription drugs, it’s imperative that we work to provide alternatives to buying medication at the costly market value,” said State Senator Karina Villa (D-West Chicago). “I-DROP will help ensure families are not forced to make the tough decision between paying bills or buying food and purchasing necessary prescription medication.”


“After a decade of work, we’ve finally passed legislation to reuse millions of dollars of safe, unexpired medications in Illinois,” said State Representative Will Guzzardi (D)-Chicago. “Instead of going to an incinerator, these drugs will go to people in need across our state. Thanks to the tireless work of an incredible coalition of advocates, I’m proud to see Governor Pritzker sign our bill into law.”     


“I-DROP opens up another avenue for Illinois healthcare to be able to help those who are underinsured or unemployed and not able to afford their medication; by enabling pharmacists and other healthcare providers to redispense needed medications that are going unused, especially those from mail order waste,” said Garth K. Reynolds, Executive Director of the Illinois Pharmacists Association.


“Thanks to grassroots activists from across the state, we’ll have the opportunity to re-use many of these precious drugs to help patients in need,” said Elizabeth Lindquist, PharmD, co-founder of Illinois Prescription Drug Repository Coalition. “Thanks to Rep. Guzzardi and Sen. Villa for spearheading the legislative effort. Thank you to Governor Pritzker for signing I-DROP into law. The coalition looks forward to assisting with I-DROP implementation to maximize its benefit for patients and the environment.”


“We applaud Governor Pritzker and the Legislature for passing I-DROP. This law will reduce the environmental damage caused by needlessly destroying usable medicine and at the same time help Illinois families get the medicine they need to stay healthy,” said George Wang, PhD, co-founder of SIRUM. “Now we look forward to working with the supporters of I-DROP to implement a successful donation program for the state.”


“With the Governor’s signature, we can now work on educating our patients, colleagues, and local clinics that Illinoisans now have access to this exciting new resource for affordable medications,” said Alan Hutchison, MD, PhD, GI Fellow at the University of Chicago Medicine.  “In my work with patients with inflammatory bowel disease and liver disease, often our ability to prescribe therapies is limited by what our patients can afford. This program will also substantially reduce the waste of safe and unexpired medications that would otherwise pollute our waterways.”


“Free and Charitable Clinics provide much needed health care for the uninsured and underinsured, who have chronic health conditions, like hypertension and diabetes,” said Melissa Maguire, Executive Director at The Illinois Association of Free and Charitable Clinics.


HB 119 takes effect January 1, 2022.


Senate Bill 1682


To save Illinois consumers their hardworking dollars at the pharmacy counter, SB 1682 requires pharmacies to provide customers with the retail price of a prescription drug, both in writing and electronically prior to purchase.


If the customer’s cost-sharing price for a prescription exceeds the current pharmacy retail price, the pharmacy must explicitly make that clear. To provide greater transparency, the legislation also removes a provision that limits consumers, who have a prescription, to only ten requests for disclosure of the retail price of prescription drugs or medical devices.


“The signing of this legislation establishes truth and transparency for the pharmaceutical industry,” said State Senator Scott M. Bennett (D-Champaign).

“With this new law on the books, consumers will have the ability to make informed decisions about where to buy their prescriptions.”


“Transparency in drug prices is pivotal in my efforts towards accessible and affordable health care,” said State Representative Dagmara Avelar (D -Bolingbrook). “This is a good step towards transforming our health  care system and protecting consumers.”


SB 1682 takes effect January 1, 2022.


House Bill 1745


In response to the national rise of prescription drug prices in recent years, HB 1745 limits the total monthly out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs.


The legislation requires insurance companies to offer at least 10 percent of individual plans and one group plan with flat out-of-pocket payments by January 1, 2023. Furthermore, insurance companies must offer at least 25 percent of individual plans and two group plans with that benefit by January 1, 2024. These measures will help control out-of-pocket costs for residents across Illinois.


“Making prescription drugs affordable is a top priority,” said Leader Greg Harris (D – Chicago). “This new law ensures that consumers can choose plans that limit their out-of-pocket  expenses and cut the costs of their critical medications.”


“A fixed out-of-pocket amount will be better for those families who have smaller budgets and need consistency,” said State Senator Napoleon Harris, III (D – Harvey). “I strongly believe this will be beneficial for our working families in Illinois, as it will give them the option to budget their medical expenses more easily.”


HB 1745 takes effect January 1, 2023 and January 1, 2024.


The package of legislation builds upon significant administration efforts toward expanding healthcare equity across the state, including signing the Health Care and Human Services Reform Act into law earlier this year. The administration also expanded telehealth coverage in order to increase healthcare access to vulnerable and rural populations, eliminated the Medicaid backlog, brought an additional $250 million in federal healthcare funding to Illinois, and signed the Healthcare and Hospital Transformation bill into law.