Following the passage of House Bill 63 in the Georgia Legislature, the Senate Insurance and Labor Committee is conducting a hearing today at 2:00 p.m. to hear from patients who have experienced negative treatment under step therapy insurance policies.
The legislation is meant to protect patient rights. According to a release by the Senate Committee, the bill will “protect patients from being harmed by a health insurance process known as step therapy, or ‘fail first,'” medical treatment.
Step therapy, says the release, “forces patients to try and fail on older, often less expensive medications before they can receive what their health care provider prescribes,” and typically affects patients living with conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, arthritis, and others.
The hearing in the Senate today will hear testimony from patients affected by this insurance practice, as in some cases “insurers even require step therapy when patients have already tried the insurer-preferred medications, or when those medications could cause their health to deteriorate.”
House Bill 63 sets out to limit “step therapy in certain critical situations, while still allowing insurers to use step therapy when it is appropriate for a patient’s health,” while still protecting Georgia patients.
Patients speaking with the Senate today include Justin Williams of Atlanta who “was hospitalized twice for an immune disease before receiving the coverage his doctor recommended” and Rep. Kim Schofield (D-Atlanta), a state legislator who has “experienced step therapy, needing to call a lobbyist so that she could receive the medication she needed to keep doing her job.”
According to the legislature, H.B. 63 “creates a basic framework for when it is medically appropriate to exempt patients from step therapy protocols and establishes a transparent process for health care providers to request exceptions. By helping patients get access to what their physician prescribes when it is medically necessary, House Bill 63 improves the step therapy process for patients and physicians, while aiming to save money for the entire health care system.”
The Senate Insurance and Labor Committee Hearing on H.B. 63 starts today at 2:00 p.m. EST in the Georgia State Capitol.