Patient and Healthcare Provider Groups Applaud Filing of the 'Safe Step Act' in United States Senate
S.2546 will protect patients from potentially harmful 'step therapy'
By: Gray Media Inc.
WASHINGTON - Sept. 26, 2019 - PRLog -- Patient advocates and healthcare provider groups from across the country today applauded the filing of bi-partisan legislation by Senators Murkowski (R-AK) Jones (D-AL) and Cassidy (R-LA) which when passed will offer common sense protections to ensure patients have timely access to the medications prescribed to them by their healthcare providers by putting parameters around an insurance industry practice known as "step therapy" or "fail first".
The 'Safe Step Act' (S.2546)
Both state and federal legislation is necessary in order to cover plans that are regulated by varying state and federal agencies.
"We are making real progress in the effort to ensure that patients have access to the right medicine at the right time, and without unnecessary and potentially harmful delays because of step therapy," said Patrick Stone, Vice President, government relations and advocacy, National Psoriasis Foundation. "With 27 states having passed step therapy reform, and bills in both the United States House and Senate, patients and doctors will be able to access needed treatments to manage their chronic conditions without delay."
Under current step therapy protocols, insurance companies can force patients to try and fail alternative medications decided by the insurer, before covering the cost of the prescription that their doctor has prescribed. Patients can go weeks or months without proper treatment under step therapy, causing serious medical consequences, including worsening of disease and irreversible health effects.
"Time is of the essence when treating serious diseases such as cancer, and we have seen the effects of care delays on our patients, which include irreversible disease progression,"
The 'Safe Step Act' does not ban the use of step therapy, but instead puts common-sense parameters and reasonable timelines around the practice. The legislation will give doctors a transparent and standardized process to appeal step therapy requirements for patients needing a particular treatment.
Dr. Samir Shah, President of the Digestive Disease National Coalition, is a practicing gastroenterologist from Rhode Island. "I can't even begin to tell you how many hours I, my colleagues and staff have to spend on the phone fighting these policies. Fail first protocols impede clinical decision making and delay necessary care. This bill works to strengthen the doctor-patient relationship and improve transparency over step therapy, which means I and clinicians across the country can spend more time with our patients and less time arguing over the phone with bureaucrats."
"Step therapy poses a barrier to care for patients. When treating a patient with a chronic condition like inflammatory bowel disease, getting the patient the right medication at the right time is critical. The Safe Step Act will help providers protect their patients when subject to these protocols by ensuring common sense exceptions,"
"I am not a guinea pig, and that is how I felt when the insurance company once told me which medication I could take in place of what my doctor had prescribed to me. This decision should be between my doctor and me, not the insurance company," said Hannah Mitschele, a middle schooler from South Portland, Maine who lives with epilepsy. "I was so happy when the Step Therapy bill passed in Maine. It was always very scary for me to think the insurance company could possibly change my medication and I could start having seizures again. My next hope is that everyone in this country gets the same protections and access to the medications they need."
The 'Safe Step Act' has been referred to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and has been endorsed by the following organizations: