Pharmacies receive state funds; but bills still pile up

By Julia Bruck - bioemail

MOUNT VERNON, IL (KFVS) - Some local pharmacies and medical providers are finally seeing some green from the State of Illinois. The comptroller's office paid out paid nearly 450 million dollars in Medicaid claims last month.

Pharmacists say the state's delay in payments is not a new problem.  As Illinois sinks deeper into a budget crisis, pharmacists say it's taking longer to get Medicaid reimbursements.

It's a busy day at the Medicine Shoppe in Mount Vernon.  General Manger Tracey Adams says as Medicaid prescriptions go out it could be months before the shop sees money from the state come in.

"At least three months delay if not longer," Adams said.

"We really keep an eye on the home medical equipment because that's where the bulk of our money is, that's out for an extended period of time," he added.

Adams says about five years ago they scaled back on the number of Medicaid prescriptions filled due to the state's lack of payments.

A few years ago home medical equipment rolled into the shop, which Adams says, brought more customers but also increased unpaid Medicaid claims.

"We don't want to quit taking Medicaid because we feel an objection to those beneficiaries to try to provide what they need," Adams said. "But we also can't let the rest of the business suffer."

The state recently reimbursed the Medicine Shoppe about $40,000 but Adams says Illinois has yet to pay the other $250,000 it owes.

It's a problem, pharmacist and owner Eric Black says he took to a local state senator this week. Black says they wanted to know what could be done to improve the payment process.

"It's only fair if we're required to meet our demands by the state to pay taxes, and the like, they also should meet their requirements in a timely fashion," Black said.

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