Closer Look: Medicaid drugs become target for cuts

CHICAGO (AP) - Illinois lawmakers are looking for ways to cut rapidly increasing expenses in the Medicaid program and they may consider the big-ticket cost of prescription drugs as a tempting target.

Drugs now cost the Illinois Medicaid program more than $1 billion annually. Medicaid covers drugs for a wide variety of illnesses, from asthma to schizophrenia, for the poor and disabled.

Legislators are looking at other states for ideas. Tennessee, for example, limits adults to five prescriptions each month. Illinois officials estimate that a similar limit would save the state $136 million a year and affect 200,000 Medicaid clients who now fill more than five prescriptions per month.

Illinois has started some cost-saving measures in recent years: For example, cutting payment for most over-the-counter drugs is projected to save Medicaid $10 million.

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