As another legislative session comes to a close, much work has been done, but much remains for our lawmakers in Hartford. With big issues like gun control and budget deficits, it is easy for smaller pieces of legislation to be forgotten.
As a patient turned advocate, I have learned first hand that it is critical to have a lawmaker on your side to champion your issue in order to be able to make real change happen. For the US Pain Foundation, that champion has been Sen. Joseph Crisco.
Sen. Crisco has been an ally in the area of patient protections-specifically in helping to curb a practice known as step therapy. Step therapy is when a doctor prescribes a medication, but a patient’s insurance company forces them to try alternative medications or therapies before agreeing to pay for the prescribed medication.
This practice is wrong and Sen. Crisco has repeatedly stood up to fight against this for the people of Connecticut. Sen. Crisco led the fight two years ago when Connecticut became the first state in the nation to ban step therapy for pain patients. This year, Senator Crisco has worked with us on legislation that if passed will work to ensure all Connecticut patients timely and appropriate care.
SB 857 curbs in two ways the most egregious forms of step therapy for all patients.
First, it prevents insurance companies from requiring patients to take a medication that has not been approved by the FDA for their condition. It’s outrageous that insurers would require that in the first place, but it happens more than we’d like to believe.
Second, the bill prevents an insurer from requiring a patient fail on the same medication more than once. Again, seems outrageous, but it happens. Believe me.
I myself have been forced to fail on medication before I was allowed to have what my doctor prescribed. In fact, I have a box full of medications that were not able to help my pain. When I look at that box of unused medications, I’m reminded of the waste and pain that the practice of step therapy caused me, and I am determined to help that from happening to others.
We’re not done yet. We are fighting for this new legislation to help protect all patients, including all medications and diseases.
I am confident that in the waning days of the 2013 legislative session, Sen. Crisco and his colleagues will call this legislation for a vote—-and pass it into law to ensure that residents in our state have access to the medications that their doctors have prescribed—-without unnecessary interferences.
Paul Gileno is the president and founder of the US Pain Foundation, a 501©3 nonprofit that was founded by people with pain, for people with pain and is based in Middletown.