Good morning. I am Ryan Gruenenfelder, Director of Advocacy & Outreach for AARP Illinois.  I want to share my own personal story as an example why this legislation is needed.  In 1977, when I was 2 years old, I was given a peanut butter cookie when it was unbeknownst to anyone I was allergic to peanuts.  I went into anaphylactic shock and became unable to breathe.  Fortunately, my caregiver was able to rush me to the hospital in Sparta, Illinois quickly enough for those in the ER to save my life.  From that point forward throughout my childhood, my parents constantly had epi-pens in their cars and in the house in case it became necessary to try to save my life once again.  I cannot imagine the pain and fear my parents felt that day, and I feel fortunate they were able to have access to the life-saving drug I needed to protect me.  That same drug recently saw a 508% increase in price according to a GAO study.  Today’s children may not be as fortunate as I was in the 1970s.

“While generic drug prices can provide good value overall, that’s no help to you if the particular drug you need suddenly costs 500 percent more. There’s no room in many older Illinoisans’ budgets for this kind of price gouging.  And yet they must have these prescription medicines to avoid sometimes catastrophic health consequences.”

“Illinois has the opportunity to become a national leader on an issue that is important to older Illinois voters. We’re asking the Senate president to allow this legislation to come to the Senate floor for an up-and-down vote. AARP’s 1.6 million members are watching closely, and they’ll remember where our elected officials stand.”

Speaking as someone who has been there needing that life-saving medication. I implore you to allow this bill to have a hearing, a vote and to pass it.  It’s the right thing to do for older Americans who need access to affordable prescription drugs.  It’s the right thing to do for anyone who suffers a surprise medical emergency.  And it’s the right thing to do for those two year olds across Illinois who need a lifesaving drug to ensure they are able to live a life.