OKLAHOMA CITY – A ceremonial signing was held for a Senate bill that was applauded by patients and patient advocates from across the state.
Right now, some insurance companies require patients to try cheaper or generic drugs for some chronic conditions, stepping up to other drugs only if the cheaper ones don’t work.
This ‘fail first’ approach can save money, but it can also make patients endure ineffective treatments.
“The practice of ‘step therapy’ is more common than you might think,” said Brianna Sommers, a 16-year-old junior from Choctaw who suffers from rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, muscle disease, ankylosing spondylitis, and a brain cyst she has had since birth. “And I can tell you from my experience that it isn’t very therapeutic at all. Step therapy dragged treatment out and put me in severe pain for too long.”
Senate Bill 509 was unanimously approved by lawmakers this past legislative session. The bill allows doctors to exempt patients from having to go through their step-by-step medication process.
“SB 509 puts Oklahoma patients first,” said Gov. Kevin Stitt. “The bipartisan process to pass this legislation highlights the best of our lawmakers working together to cut through bureaucratic hurdles and red tape to do what’s right for the people of Oklahoma.”
Prior to the passing of the bill, some Oklahoma patients experienced obstacles in accessing the treatments that were prescribed by their health care provider.
“Today is a great day for Oklahoma families and patients,” said Jenniafer Walters, executive director of the Epilepsy Foundation of Oklahoma. “We are so grateful that Governor Stitt signed SB509 into law, putting important guardrails on the practice of step therapy. Thanks to the hard work of Sen. Rader, Rep. Munson and Rep. Echols in tackling this important issue, Oklahoma patients will now be able to receive doctor-recommended medications faster than the current protocols allowed by insurance companies.”
Officials say the bill doesn’t ban the practice of step therapy, but it makes the process more transparent and allows medical providers to exempt patients from the protocol under a set of strict criteria.