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April 12, 2016

Advocates Urge Ohio Legislature to Save Lives by Protecting Patients

2016-04-12 | April 13, 2016

Advocates, lawmakers unite to break down barriers to care

(Columbus, OH) – Patient advocates from across Ohio will gather in Columbus today for the first annual Ohio Patient Advocacy Day to urge lawmakers to protect patients by ensuring their access to lifesaving, prescribed medications.  Advocates from the National Patient Advocate Foundation (NPAF) will call on the Ohio Legislature to pass legislation that limits insurers’ ability to block access to needed therapies.

While some benefit management techniques are practical, often patients are blocked from the very medications that will save their lives in order to save money. For instance, under prior authorization requirements, physicians must obtain approval from an insurance plan to prescribe a specific medication or benefits will not be paid. This practice places a significant burden on physicians’ offices and can lead to significant delays in the patient’s treatment. Another technique, known as step therapy, requires a patient to “fail first” on a preferred, cheaper medication before being allowed access to a preferred, prescribed therapy. In each instance, patients may become sicker as they wait upon bureaucratic delays that interfere with the doctor-patient relationship.

“Ohio has some of the best health facilities and professionals in the country, and we should allow them to evaluate and care for their patients without barriers. The bills we are supporting today streamline a very complicated process, allow for transparency and ultimately for better health outcomes for patients across Ohio,” said Larry Lanier, NPAF President of State Advocacy and Community Outreach.

Senator Peggy Lehner (SD-6), sponsor of SB 243, a bill governing insurers’ use of step therapy requirements, will speak with the advocates about the need for her proposed bill. Senators Capri S. Cafaro (SD-32) and Randy Gardner (SD-2) will meet with the advocates and discuss SB 129, a bill that would create standards for prior authorization medications, treatments and devices and place a time limit on the approval of these requests. The bill would make the prior authorization process more transparent, leading to less delays and better health outcomes.

“Our healthcare system should work efficiently, effectively and in the best interest of our citizens. Senate Bill 129 will streamline the insurance process making it stronger for patients, providers, pharmacists and insurers. A decade ago, I was a NPAF volunteer. I know and respect their mission. I am proud to stand before this group today and share my bill and my vision for the future,” said Senator Cafaro.

The advocates will be joined by representatives from the Ohio State Medical Association and the Aimed Alliance. Kathleen Werling, a mother of six, breast cancer survivor and melanoma patient, will share her story and the serious consequences step therapy had on her and her family.

About the National Patient Advocate Foundation

The National Patient Advocate Foundation is the advocacy affiliate of the Patient Advocate Foundation, a national non-profit organization that provides free case management and co-pay relief services for patients struggling with chronic, debilitating and life-threatening conditions.  NPAF translates the experiences of patients who have been denied access to affordable, quality health care into national and state policy initiatives.