Tuesday, September 19, 2006

IL auditor finds Blagojevich drug program broke law

During the start of Blagojevich's term (this was back in 2003), there was a big press conference that interrupted regular programming on CLTV and maybe a few other local stations. During that period of time there was a debate raging regarding perscription drugs. Blagojevich who may have been grandstandin, was at least trying to address the issue of the cost of precription drugs.

That year having been listening to Rush Limbaugh the issue that came up the most was this legislation (a prescription drug entitlement) being pushed through Congress. It upset Limbaugh and other conservative because it wasn't being pushed by Democrats, but by Republicans. Especially President Bush who is said to be the biggest spendor in the US government since fellow Texan Lyndon Johnson was in the White House.

Then I find this in Crain's Chicago Business today about the Governor's drug program...

An Illinois program to import prescription drugs from Canada not only broke federal law but also failed to help many senior citizens, the state auditor reported Tuesday.

Auditor General William Holland reviewed the program and found that fewer than 5,000 people obtained medicine through the program in its first 19 months. That's about 65 people per week.

Holland also found incomplete state inspections of the foreign pharmacies filling the prescriptions and lax monitoring to ensure the medicine comes only from approved pharmacies.
Holland found that the state has devoted at least $488,000 worth of state employees' time to promoting the program. Some of them were paid with federal funds even though the program violates federal law.

State personnel also have accumulated over $111,000 in travel expenses related to the program — much of it not approved in advance — and $220,000 in legal fees.

Blagojevich disagrees though and he promises that the state of Illinois will not be bullied by the FDA...

"Broadening the scope of I-SaveRx will help the taxpayers save money by reducing the state's prescription drug costs. It will also help employees save money ..." he said in a letter to the federal Food and Drug Administration.

Blagojevich launched the program in October 2004 as a way for Illinois senior citizens to avoid the high prices for American medicine. Four other states ended up joining the program, although federal law bars the importation of foreign drugs.

So let's get into state politics here. As I've seem to have rarely done until just now. I don't like either of the candidates for governor. I really like the governor less than Topinka. So the question will have to be, could this hurt the governor.


Thomas Westgard said...

Blago certainly isn't popular now. But I think this news will only draw attention to something he did that was at least well-intentioned. I don't see it hurting him.

Rastaman2 said...

Blago was NOT well intentioned on this program. His many other "programs" bear this out. At the time he did it, it was a hot button issue. He took a populist stand to make the people of Illinois think he cares for them. BS. And as with all of his "programs" they are poorly conceived, barely funded and not managed. Bottom line. After the "Press Release" governing, the programs, if they are even implemented, are left to wither on the vine.

Thomas Westgard said...

Rasta, your words are more eloquent than mine were. However, although I think you are probably entirely correct that Blago did this out of a desire to capitalize on a hot-button issue, I still think that news about it will still give people the impression that Blago did something that could or should have been to their advantage.

In contrast, the $1500 check story seems to be hurting him a bit. Eric Zorn did a good analysis of this situation recently. I think the problems with the drug program require more thought than people are willing to invest. A $1500 check as a birthday present to a little kid requires very little thought, so it's more likely to be a problem with large numbers of people.

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