- Associated Press - Friday, February 5, 2016

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - The Kansas Senate will consider a bill that would require Medicaid patients to try lower-cost drugs before moving to more expensive treatments.

The Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee passed the step therapy legislation Thursday, after adding a provision that current patients won’t be kicked off their medications.

The Topeka Capital-Journal (https://bit.ly/1X8dypl ) reports that the bill would require the state’s managed care organizations to use the lowest-cost, most effective drugs before trying more expensive, less-proven medications.

The provision to the legislation came in conjunction with a letter to lawmakers on the committee from Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary Susan Mosier.

“The tenets of step therapy limit beneficiaries’ exposure to new medications that may have unknown side effects without proven superiority over established medication while also containing cost,” Mosier wrote.

A number of health care providers - including Mental Health America of the Heartland, Ryan White HIV Center and Kansas Mental Health Coalition - have opposed the bill. Senator Laura Kelly, a Democrat from Topeka, also objected, saying the state shouldn’t interfere with the doctor-patient relationship.

“They don’t start out, ‘Let’s see if I can prescribe the absolute most expensive drug for you,’” Kelly said.

Jim Denning, a Republican from Overland Park, said Thursday that step therapy is widely used and is already part of the state health plan for public employees.

“It’s part of the health care delivery system in the United States,” Denning said. “The state health plan uses it, Medicare uses it. Everybody is used to it. So, I wasn’t swayed by (the opposition).”


Information from: The Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal, https://www.cjonline.com

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