At the beginning of 2017, the National Psoriasis Foundation, in partnership with the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation, targeted the state of Georgia for the introduction and passage of step therapy legislation.
Step therapy, also known as ”fail first,” is a health insurance mandate that restricts spending on prescription drugs. This mandate requires patients to fail first, often multiple times, on certain medications before they are able to receive the treatment originally prescribed by their physician. All too often, step therapy delays access to optimal treatment, while potentially exacerbating a person’s condition.
Georgia’s step therapy bill, HB 519, was introduced in the Georgia House of Representatives in 2017 and carried over to the 2018 session. As a carryover bill, HB 519 will fail if not passed by the end of this session. The proposed legislation ensures that step therapy protocols are based on sound clinical guidelines, establishes a basic framework for when it is medically appropriate to exempt patients from step therapy, and creates an exceptions process that is transparent and accessible to patients and health care providers.
With a very strong coalition in place – a diligent and motivated group of patient and provider advocates – we have made considerable progress this year. On Jan. 23, more than 20 coalition partners and advocates joined at the Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta for our 2018 Lobby Day. The morning was spent meeting with legislators, followed by a lunch briefing highlighting patient stories.
Our voices were heard. On Monday, Feb. 12, the House Life and Health Subcommittee held a hearing on HB 519. Bill sponsor Rep. Sharon Cooper opened the hearing with an introduction to our legislation followed by five strong advocate testimonies. There was no opposition testimony. Now committee members must consider the legislation and vote on whether to support moving the bill to the full Insurance Committee. As these members weigh their decision, coalition members and advocates continue to reach out and express the importance of passing HB 519.
Your help is needed!
We continue to look for new patient and provider residents of Georgia interested in supporting our efforts. Support can be shown through various avenues, from posting on social media to contacting your representatives to sharing your story for our media efforts. It is the voice of patients and providers that make these campaigns a success. Please contact Amy Prentice at firstname.lastname@example.org or 503-546-5551 if you would like to learn more about step therapy or get involved with our advocacy efforts across the country.