Five pieces of legislation to watch

3.12.19

Legislative sessions are underway, and the Chronic Disease Coalition is working alongside local advocates, health care experts and family members to support some bills and to defeat others that would directly impact the chronic disease community. Following are five pieces of legislation in various states that address living organ donation, charitable assistance, step therapy and sinister copay accumulator programs.

1. Oregon S.B. 796

Across the nation, thousands of patients die each year while waiting for an organ transplant. Oregon S.B. 796 is helping to address the shortage of organ donations by removing barriers for living donors.

Currently, living donors are forced to take unpaid leave from work while undergoing and recovering from surgery. This bipartisan bill would expand Oregon’s employment statutes to include living organ donation within employer-covered paid leave. Additionally, it would prevent insurance companies from denying living donors life insurance, health insurance or long-term care insurance policies or increasing their premium payments.

Take action and urge Oregon lawmakers to institute protections for living donors here.

2. Florida H.B. 559

Step therapy practices prohibit patients from accessing treatment prescribed by their doctor before first trying and failing on cheaper, often less effective medicine. Patients may experience negative side effects that lead to adverse health outcomes or even death.

H.B. 559 would institute a commonsense, transparent exemptions process for patients with serious chronic health conditions, allowing them to access their doctor-prescribed treatment in a timely manner.

Support H.B. 559 and encourage your representative to do the same by clicking here.

3. California A.B. 290

California has reintroduced a disastrous bill that would severely restrict kidney patients’ access to dialysis treatment while overtly padding insurers’ pockets. The insurance-backed bill, A.B. 290, would require charitable organizations to disclose the identities of patients who receive charitable premium assistance to insurance companies. In effect, this would arm insurers with information that could allow them to target these patients by increasing the cost of their premiums or finding loopholes to drop them from their plans.

If passed, the legislation would also allow insurers to reimburse dialysis clinics at a fraction of the cost of dialysis care. For smaller clinics in rural areas, this business model isn’t sustainable, forcing them to close. Patients in these areas would have to travel further to receive lifesaving care, causing many to skip or abandon treatment.

This is bad policy. Send a letter to your legislator and let California lawmakers know that patients and health care experts don’t support this bill.

4. Massachusetts H.D. 1506

Massachusetts health care advocates are supporting a bipartisan bill that would help protect patients from harmful step therapy practices. The legislation, H.D. 1506, would provide patients with more timely access to the treatment originally prescribed by their doctor. By establishing guardrails, the legislation would ensure step therapy protocols are based on clinical best practices and prevent insurers from increasing their profits at the expense of the patient.

Doctors, not insurers, should determine a patients’ treatment. Stand up against the insurance industry and urge your legislator to support this bill.

5. Indiana H.B. 1307

Insurers have recently introduced copay accumulator programs, which are negatively impacting patients who rely on copay cards or coupons to afford their care. Traditionally, payments made by copay cards or coupons have counted toward a patient’s deductible, allowing cost-sharing protections to kick in during the year. Copay accumulator programs prevent these charitable payments from counting toward a patient’s deductible, causing many to reach a “cost cliff” after using the entire amount of the copay card or coupon. Patients are then forced to choose between paying their full deductible and accessing their treatment or paying for food and rent.

Indiana H.B. 1307 would address this issue and alleviate the financial burden placed on patients by requiring insurers to count copay assistance toward a patient’s deductible.