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November 16, 2004

Gov. Blagojevich receives first ever AARP “Senior Independence Award”
Governor honored for creating I-SaveRx and for improving support services to help seniors stay in their homes

SPRINGFIELD – During a ceremony in the State Capitol Rotunda, Governor Rod Blagojevich today accepted the first ever “Senior Independence Award” from the AARP. The Senior Independence Award honors the Governor for his hard fought efforts to help seniors maintain their independence by providing them with better access to safe and affordable prescription drugs and by signing important legislation supporting home-based care for seniors.
“The people of this state deserve access to safe and affordable prescription drugs.  Our seniors should not have to choose between paying their utilities bills and paying for the medicines their doctors say they need.  We created I-SaveRx so seniors wouldn’t have to make that real life choice,” said Gov. Blagojevich.  “I appreciate all of the help we’ve received in this effort from the AARP.  AARP has long been a vocal advocate at both the state and national levels for legislation allowing the importation of prescription drugs from Canada and other countries.” 
The Illinois AARP strongly supports the Governor’s I-SaveRx program – the first program in the nation that allows citizens to purchase lower cost, safe prescription drugs from Europe and Canada.  In fact, representatives from the 1.6 million-member Illinois AARP stood with the Governor when he launched I-SaveRx to show the organization’s support for the program. 
The AARP also recognized Governor Blagojevich for signing Senate Bill 2880, transforming Illinois’ long term care system by restructuring services to include home-based care as well as institutional care.  Sponsored by Sen. Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago) and Rep. Julie Hamos (D-Evanston), the law restructures all aspects of service, including housing, health, financial and supportive services for older people. It also includes the development of a Nursing Home Conversion Program to be established by the state departments of Public Health and Public Aid. 
The program is intended to reduce reliance on nursing homes by Medicaid, the federal-state program that pays the health-care costs for the poor.  Savings from this effort will be reallocated to a broader array of options for home-based or community based services to older adults.
“Governor Blagojevich showed vision and leadership by signing SB 2880 into law and by fighting to bring reasonably priced prescription medications to our senior population,” said Donna Ginther, AARP Illinois. “While the state’s fiscal constraints continue to present a challenge to completing this program, it is most appropriate to recognize his role in these vital first steps.” 
SB 2880 requires the Department on Aging to begin the restructure no later than January 1, 2005, and to give priority to the expansion and development of new services in areas identified with the greatest need.  Restructure, according to the new law, includes:
  • The expansion of services to older adults and their family caregivers, subject to availability of funds,
  • Development of rules to implement the law, and an annual report of progress, and
collaboration between the state departments of Aging, Public Health and Public Aid and others to implement the act.
“Senate Bill 2880 responds to the strong desire of many senior citizens to remain in their homes and in their communities.  It respects the will of a very independent generation.  This law and our I-SaveRx program that helps seniors save money on their necessary prescriptions will hopefully allow seniors stay in their homes longer, near their friends and their families,” said Gov. Blagojevich.
Participants in the I-SaveRx plan can save an average of 25 to 50 percent on the cost of the most common medications used to treat chronic conditions.  I-SaveRx is the first program in the nation to establish a network of pharmacies that includes facilities across the Atlantic.  The program has extensive safeguards built-in and includes thorough oversight of network pharmacies.
To enroll in the plan, an individual must mail or fax a completed health profile form and signed prescription to the I-SaveRx clearinghouse. Once the clearinghouse has received the prescription
and health profile form, it will conduct an initial scan for appropriateness using the same drug interaction software used in Illinois pharmacies.  If the prescription passes the interaction test, it will then be turned over to a network physician in the country from which the medication will be dispensed, who will review and re-write the prescription for a local network pharmacy.  The pharmacy will perform a final safety check to comply with local laws and regulations before dispensing the medication. 
Only prescription refills are eligible for the program so patients and their doctors have had time to review for unanticipated side effects or interactions. The list of available drugs is limited to those that have been approved by the FDA for use in the United States to treat chronic or long-term conditions, and that cannot spoil during the shipping process.   
For more information, log on to I-SaveRx.net or call 1-866-I-SAVE33.

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