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State-and-regional
METRO EAST
Rescuers pull toddler from small plane crash near Waterloo

WATERLOO — Rescuers pulled three family members, including a toddler, from a small plane crash in rural Monroe County on Tuesday afternoon.

The crash was sometime before 3 p.m. at Gilmore Lake Road and Floraville Road, northeast of Waterloo. On board were a 4-year-old boy along with his grandmother and grandfather, who was flying the plane, said Maj. Jim Lansing of the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office. All three were taken to a hospital. They were all talking and conscious, Lansing said.

The woman on board told authorities a warning light came on in the plane and oil began covering the windshield so that the pilot couldn’t see, Lansing said.

The plane clipped a tree before it nose-dived into the ground and flipped, according to the sheriff’s office.

After the crash, a neighbor pulled the toddler out of the wreckage, Lansing said.

The plane seen in images of the crash left an airport near Mobile, Alabama, at 11:18 a.m. and was set to arrive at St. Louis Downtown Airport in Cahokia on Tuesday afternoon, according to online flight tracking site FlightAware.

The plane is a Piper PA-32R, a six-seat, single-engine aircraft.

The Federal Aviation Administration was called to the scene to investigate the cause of the crash.


State-and-regional
REGION
The Southern nabs 5 Illinois APME awards

The Illinois Associated Press Media Editors has announced its newspaper awards for 2018.

Member newspapers from around the state compete in several different categories, including photography, reporting and writing, and digital storytelling.

Competing newspapers are judged compared with newspapers of similar circulation from around the state. The Southern is considered Division II/Mid-Sized.

The Southern's Molly Parker won honors for best use of social media by an individual for her Twitter account @MollyParkerSI.

The Southern staff took home top prize in the following categories:

  • Picture Story: Isaac Smith, for his photos from the Steeleville Queen of Hearts drawing;
  • Investigative Reporting: Molly Parker, for her reporting on public housing issues in Southern Illinois;
  • Sports Feature Photo: Byron Hetzler, for his photo "Cooling Off a Hot Pitcher;"
  • Sports Column or Blog: Bucky Dent for his weekly column about Southern Illinois prep sports.

The Southern also won second or third place in several other categories, including enterprise story, enterprise series, public service, sports feature and in several photography categories.

Southern Illinoisan Publisher Craig Rogers said the awards recognize the newsroom's hard work and dedication to quality journalism that makes a difference in the communities we serve.

"Our communities should be proud to have these award-winning journalists working on their behalf," Rogers said.

The awards for General Excellence and Photo and Editorial Sweepstakes, as well as News Innovator of the Year, will be announced during the annual convention of the Illinois Press Association on May 2 in Springfield, Illinois.

Thirty-five daily newspapers submitted 916 entries in the contest.

— The Associated Press contributed to this report.


bhetzler / Byron Hetzler, The Southern 

Goreville starting pitcher Brodie Lenon gets a water bath from his teammates after defeating Altamont 19-2 in the 1A Super-Sectional at Itchy Jones Stadium on May 28, 2018, in Carbondale. Goreville went on to finish third at the state tournament. Byron Hetzler went on to win an award from Illinois APME for capturing this moment.


Govt-and-politics
STATE
New bills target pharmacy middlemen for state regulation

SPRINGFIELD – As part of an effort to rein in the rising cost of prescription drugs in Illinois, Democratic state lawmakers introduced bills Wednesday to impose state regulations on a little-known industry, pharmacy benefit managers, or PBMs, who negotiate drug prices and benefits on behalf of insurance plans.

Speaking at a statehouse rally with scores of pharmacists from around the state, House Majority Leader Gregory Harris, of Chicago, and Democratic Sen. Andy Manar, of Bunker Hill, blamed that industry not only for manipulating drug prices, but also for pushing independent community pharmacies out of business — charges the PBM industry denies.

“So we’re here today to work on legislation that will outlaw predatory pricing practices, that will stop insurers and PBMs from disadvantaging local pharmacies and local pharmacists, and to make drugs more affordable to families and consumers across the state of Illinois,” Harris said at the rally.

PBMs generally work on behalf of health insurance plans to negotiate drug prices and develop what are called “formularies” — rules that determine what drugs will be covered for particular conditions, and in some instances, under what conditions those drugs will be covered.

In addition, in the case of high-cost drugs, PBMs will often set a “maximum allowable cost” that limits how much pharmacies will be reimbursed for a particular drug.

Independent pharmacies complain those maximum allowable costs are often less than the wholesale price they pay to manufacturers to obtain the drug. They also allege that certain PBMs have direct ties to large, retail chain pharmacies, such as CVS Health, which operates the nation’s largest chain of retail pharmacies and provides pharmacy benefit management services.

Harris and Manar introduced companion bills Wednesday — House Bill 465 and Senate Bill 652 — that would put PBMs under regulation by the Illinois Department of Insurance.

They would also put several restrictions on PBM operations, such as prohibiting them from putting a drug on a maximum allowable cost list unless there are at least three lower-cost generic equivalent drugs available on the market.

“No one regulates PBMs in the state of Illinois,” Harris said during an interview after the rally. “And this has been true across the country. In the last two years, this has become such an issue in so many states that, I believe now, 25 states are regulating PBMs and adopting similar principles we have here to cut down on the predatory pricing practices.”

An association that represents PBMs, the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, portrayed the controversy as merely one branch of the prescription drug industry attacking another.

“We agree with…Harris that more can be done to address rising drug prices,” the association said in a statement. “However, legislation HB 465, promotes the special interest agenda of the independent drugstore lobby while having adverse effects on drug costs for Illinois consumers.”

The association has also argued that it is not to blame for the closure of small, independent pharmacies. Those pharmacies, it said, are at a natural competitive disadvantage because they do not have the purchasing power to negotiate the same kind of prices with wholesalers that PBMs can negotiate.

Harris said the next steps for the bills will be for House and Senate leaders to assign them to committees that will hold hearings on the issue later in the session.