3.30.17

As insurance companies look for new and creative ways to maximize profits at the expense of patients, state legislatures are taking action to protect patients’ rights.

A discriminatory practice that enables health insurers to save money and provide less care to patients, step therapy forces patients to try and fail cheaper treatments before they are offered more effective and expensive ones. This can happen even if their doctors are confident that the less expensive treatments will not help them.

For patients with chronic and life-threatening conditions, step therapy is particularly harmful – preventing them from accessing critical care when they need it most.

This February, the Oregon Legislature introduced a bill that sought to protect patients from problems stemming from insurance companies’ use of step therapy, and now the Florida Legislature is working on its own legislation to address the same problems – House Bill 877 and Senate Bill 530.

Chronic disease advocates, from cancer and diabetes to hemophilia and MS, continue to speak out against the discriminatory practice.

Describing the issues that step therapy poses to the chronic disease community, CDC Executive Director Scott Bruun explained that “Rather than address patients’ health care needs, step therapy denies coverage of proven and effective medical treatments, worsens a patient’s condition and increases the overall costs to the health care system.”

Step therapy can delay a patient’s ability to receive appropriate care, causing unnecessary and prolonged pain.

While more states work to draft their own legislation, encourage patient-first policies and protect patient rights, the Chronic Disease Coalition urges all legislators and policymakers to end health insurers’ discriminatory practices against those with chronic and life-threatening conditions.

And for every person standing up for the rights of all patients, the fight continues.