Lemiska after testifying at the CT state house about a nonmedical switching bill.

The pace of the 2017 legislative session picked up this month as U.S. Pain continues to lead related coalitions in three state—Tennessee, Illinois, and Connecticut—and sits on the steering committee of a coalition in Texas. Nonmedical switching occurs when insurers force patients off medications for financial reasons instead of medical ones; studies show it is bad for patients’ health and can be costlier in the long run.

Connecticut. The advocacy team hosted a luncheon and learning event at the Middletown office on March 7 for its newly formed coalition in support of HB 7123. Several coalition members, including U.S. Pain State Advocacy Associate Director Emily Lemiska, testified March 2 at an Insurance and Real Estate Committee hearing on the bill. The bill was successfully moved out of that committee and now awaits a decision from the Appropriations Committee. Coalition members are AIDS CT, Aimed Alliance, Alliance for Patient Access, American Liver Foundation, Arthritis Foundation, Coalition of State Rheumatology Organizations, Epilepsy Foundation, Global Healthy Living Foundation, Lupus and Allied Diseases Association, National Infusion Center Association, National Organization for Rare Disorders Rare Action Network, Patients Rising, and Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome Association.The bill is currently awaiting the vote from Appropriations to push the legislation forward.

Tennessee. The U.S. Pain advocacy team then traveled to Tennessee to meet with legislators in support of the non-medical switching. Coalition members testified on HB 960 at a March 15 Insurance and Banking Subcommittee hearing, though a vote will not take place until April 5. A hearing will be held on SB 991 on April 3 in the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee.

Illinois. The non-medical switching amendment, HB 2694, is currently on hold for the remainder of this year. The decision was made by both members of the coalition and the bill sponsors, Reps. Greg Harris and Patti Bellock, due to previous negotiations with the opposition regarding step therapy. The coalition will regroup over the next year—continuing to generate resources for coalition members, holding educational opportunities, and gathering more patient stories—before enthusiastically presenting and supporting nonmedical switching legislation in 2018.

Texas. U.S. Pain is excited to share that two bills, HB 2882 and SB 1967, will include a grandfathering provision, which will protect patients who are stable on a medication even between plan years so long as they stay with the same insurance company. This is the first state where such language has been considered and would be a huge step in ensuring finances do not impede access to effective treatment.

In addition to its leadership roles in the above states, U.S. Pain is a member of coalitions in multiple other states, including New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Florida,Michigan, Colorado and Washington.

To get involved with U.S. Pain’s nonmedical switching efforts, take this survey.