The Chronic Disease Coalition is among more than 20 patient groups who recently signed and sent a joint letter to U.S. Rep. Brad Wenstrup of Ohio and U.S. Rep. Raul Ruiz of California supporting their efforts to enact meaningful patient-first reform surrounding “step therapy,” a harmful practice by insurers.
Step therapy occurs when health insurance companies force patients to try cheaper and oftentimes ineffective treatments before they’re able to access more expensive, effective care options prescribed by their doctors. It is among a number of issues faced by chronic disease patients as insurers look to avoid paying for care and to shift more expensive patients off of their plans.
Introduced in May 2017, H.R. 2077, the Restoring the Patient’s Voice Act of 2017, seeks to reduce barriers created by step therapy, to make it easier for patients to understand and apply for exceptions to step therapy and to help expedite the review and approval process once an exception is filed.
“As advocates for the patient and health care provider communities across the nation, and the millions of individuals we collectively represent, we offer you our strong support for H.R. 2077,” the letter states. “We believe this commonsense, bipartisan solution will garner a positive impact on many individuals who struggle needlessly to manage their disease state and overall health.”
Step therapy continues to harm patients by delaying access to timely, lifesaving medical treatment – especially those living with chronic diseases. Those fighting it include the Hemophilia Federation of America, the Epilepsy Foundation, the National Psoriasis Foundation, Arthritis Foundation, Lupus and Allied Diseases Association, Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation and many others.
“Step therapy may not only cause significant health risks by increasing the time a patient waits for treatment,” the recent letter reads, “but also undermines the patient’s relationship with (their) own doctor, who is in the best position to know their patient’s medical history and assess a treatment plan when prescribing medications.”
The letter praises the legislation’s authors for their ongoing work to increase patients’ access to important medical treatment: “Your bill recognizes that before a health plan can deny outright or delay a patient’s ability to access a medically-necessary treatment – specifically with prescribed medications – that federal health plans and private employers’ health plans should consider the patient’s medical history; respect the health care provider’s professional judgment; and take into account the provider’s expertise in partnership with their own patient.”
The letter to Congressman Wenstrup and Congressman Ruiz was organized by Alliance for Patient Access, a patient advocacy group dedicated to promoting improved patient access to approved therapies and appropriate clinical care.
Groups signing on to the joint letter included the Chronic Disease Coalition, Alliance for Patient Access, The AIDS Institute, Arthritis Foundation, Hemophilia Federation of America, National Psoriasis Foundation and U.S. Pain Foundation among others.
To read the full letter and see the entire list of organizations in support of H.R. 2077, please click here.