By Nathaniel Brown, director of advocacy
Legislative sessions are beginning to ramp up in most states around the country, and that means we as patient advocates have another real opportunity to drive change in the health care system. With unending gridlock in DC, especially in a presidential election year, state capitols are once again center stage in the fight for better patient outcomes.
At the Chronic Disease Coalition, we have our eye on bills in at least 13 states so far in 2024 — you can check out our up-to-date policy map for the latest. (Note: If you are aware of a bill in your state that you’d like help on, and it isn’t on our map, reach out any time.)
Operating under our recently adopted policy principles of access, affordability, and representation, we are weighing on really transformational issues in key states.
- There are efforts to ban copay accumulator programs (which allow insurance companies to pocket third-party financial assistance without counting it toward your deductible) in Missouri, Ohio, Florida, and others.
- Legislators in Florida, Indiana, New Hampshire, and South Carolina are trying to establish legal protections against insurance or workplace discrimination of living organ donors; and in so doing, encouraging more Americans to give these lifesaving gifts.
- While there’s serious movement on step therapy reform at the federal level, we’re also seeing legislation in New York, New Jersey, Wisconsin, and Florida that would eliminate many of the step therapy hurdles faced by patients with serious mental illness.
*Take action on federal step therapy reform*
- Speaking of reform: Pharmacy benefit management is under scrutiny like never before. Bills in Washington state, California, Maine, and others would require any savings that PBMs negotiate be passed on to patients directly, at the point-of-sale — bringing down costs for residents managing any chronic disease.
*Take action on California drug costs*
- For Washingtonians and Vermonters with rare diseases, we’re excited to see efforts to establish an ombudsman within the health care authority and a Rare Disease Advisory Council, respectively.
- And finally, we’re aware of at least two serious initiatives to expand Medicare supplemental insurance (Medigap) in Iowa and Nebraska, with other states expected to introduce legislation soon.
*Make sure kidney patients are covered in Nebraska*
This is just the beginning. A handful of states won’t begin their legislative sessions for another month or two; and we expect legislation in all states to really start moving in February, March and April. That is why it’s critical that we make our voices heard now, early in the process, so legislators know that these issues are priorities for the chronic disease community.
If you’re new to advocacy, there are many places to start. We would recommend watching our most recent Chronic University, in which we give advice on a wide variety of tactics (submitting testimony, joining our Ambassador program, scheduling coffee with your legislator, submitting an op-ed in your local paper, etc.). No matter where you’re at in your journey, just know we’re happy you’re here — and we can help if you need it.
We look forward to working with this amazing community of experts and advocates to advance these bills and more throughout the coming year. See you out there!