Commendable support for patients
As an advocate for pain sufferers, Iíd like to thank Sen. Kevin Mullin for sponsoring legislation passed this year that will undoubtedly help many of us who live with chronic pain on a daily basis. By passing House Bill 107, patients will now have greater protections against the roadblocks we often face to proper care.
The legislation addresses several insurer practices that often cause patients delay in accessing the medications and treatments their physicians prescribe. Two of those roadblocks are called step therapy and prior authorization, and thanks to the Vermont Legislature, patients here will have a few less hoops to jump through in those areas.
Under the legislation, patients will not be required to fail more than once on the same medication before an insurance company will cover the medication a physician initially prescribed. The bill also bans insurers from forcing patients to take a medication the FDA has not approved for my condition. Without these protections, patients would be spending more time in emergency rooms, in doctorís offices and paying costly copays for medication that isnít working. Thatís not health care.
The bill also streamlines the path for prior authorization, a hoop physicians and patients are required to jump through to get approval from an insurance company. Insurers like to delay their response to a prior authorization request, but under H.107, they will have 48 hours to respond.
Sen. Mullin, along with Sens. Virginia Lyons and Tim Ashe, and Reps. Mike Fisher and George Till, should be commended for their support of patients this session. The future of health care looks a lot brighter today in Vermont for patients who have spent years fighting the little-known battles of step therapy and prior authorization.
Michael L. Grignon
The writer is patient services manager for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Upstate New York/ Vermont Chapter.
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