Milestone events took place on April 3 and 11 as U.S. Pain Foundation hosted a legislative breakfast and two advocacy days, a first for the organization, which previously has hosted them only in collaboration with allied partners. The focus of both days was bills that enhance patient safety by limiting the practice of forced medication switches, known as nonmedical switching.
The April 3 program was held at the Connecticut State Capitol and featured keynote legislative speakers, a panel discussion with patients impacted by health coverage interruptions, and a summary of legislation proposed this session. Rep. Michelle Cook and Sen. Heather Somers, cosponsors of Senate Bill 379, addressed those in attendance at the breakfast, with Cook revealing her personal experience with nonmedical switching.
“It was an inspiring and enlightening morning program that allowed Connecticut lawmakers and residents the opportunity to hear how this insurer practice results in very real and sometimes serious health consequences for patients,” says Shaina Smith, director of State Advocacy and Alliance Development for U.S. Pain. “The goal was to educate and inspire those in attendance and by the visible and audible reactions in the room, it was clear that goal was met.”
Advocates then took to the Legislative Office Building to meet with prospective cosponsors and legislative aides, distributing handout materials that called for the support of SB 379 and the need to strengthen its language.
“It was an incredibly successful afternoon and I was humbled to hear the stories of residents whose lives have been impacted by this unfortunate practice still permitted in the state,” Smith adds. “I’m happy to report that our efforts paid off, with the bill moving out of committee. It is now heading to the Senate floor and includes an amendment that should be supported by Senate leadership.”
Eight days later, the Illinois Fair Care coalition, which U.S. Pain co-leads with the Arthritis Foundation, held its advocacy day. With signs in hand that read “Please support HB 4146” and legislative packets, advocates and coalition partners poured into the State Capitol in Springfield and the Stratton Building across the way, sitting down with state representatives and their staff to increase the cosponsorship number from 55 to over 60.
“It was a lofty objective, but partners and advocates had been hard at work leading up to this moment with social media outreach, in-person district meetings and phone calls,” Smith explains. “We were ready to see that additional cosponsor slips were submitted to Rep. Laura Fine, the bill sponsor’s office.”
To learn more about nonmedical switching or get involved, click here.