Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Assembly Bill 369 (Huffman) re "stepwise" prescriptions

AB 369 (Huffman) will put the brakes on a favored method insurance companies use to control prescriptive medication. The method is "stepwise" prescribing and works like this: doctor Kindguy wants to prescribe the medication he believes will most likely relieve his patient's pain but finds that he is obstructed in so doing by the patient's insurance company which requires the doctor to try at least two lesser level, that is, cheaper medications, first. Doctors will be obliged to follow this pathway even against their own medical judgment and will retain medical liability while the lesser level medications are foisted upon hapless patients.

Huffman's bill will authorize physicians to decide how long a lesser level drug should be used and would restrict the insurance company from requiring patients to try more than two such medications. Insurance companies want to increase profits without increasing premium costs. This way allows them to shift the cost burden to medications. Pharmaceutical companies object because it makes their best, and sometimes their most expensive, medications less accessible. Physicians should be supportive of the legislation because it'll dispense with still another layer of utilization control.

This writer call the office of Speaker Perez and asked that AB 369 be sent to the floor for a vote.

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