- Associated Press - Monday, March 20, 2017

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) - A Republican state legislator introduced a bill Monday intended to ensure Nevadans with chronic conditions such as his own experience no gaps in treatment.

Assemblyman Keith Pickard’s proposal, among 130 bills published hours ahead of a legislative deadline, would outlaw insurance companies from dropping coverage during reassessments of incurable diseases.

Annual appointments and paperwork aimed at re-authorizing medication often force patients to wait for critical prescriptions, devices or procedures, Pickard said, allotting to an unnecessary health risk for people with illnesses that have no cure and are not prone to remission.

Assembly Bill 352 would apply to people with diagnosed conditions ranging from HIV and AIDS to testosterone deficiency, a condition Pickard was diagnosed with two years ago that causes fatigue and weight gain if not treated.

The Carson City representative said he recently experienced a month-long interruption in testosterone replacement therapy when his health provider dropped his coverage during the re-authorization process.

During his own lag in treatment, Pickard heard from two constituents with different chronic conditions but the same care problem.

“I became instantly aware of how serious this could be,” Pickard said.

One person he spoke with had undergone a thyroidectomy and was cut off from the thyroid hormone-replacement drug levothyroxine during reassessment.

“Once you’ve had your thyroid removed, I’ll guarantee you it’s not going to grow back, so here’s a condition that is not susceptible to recovery or remission that they’re required to have medication for, and yet they have to go through a prior authorization process,” Pickard said. “That’s an administrative procedure that just isn’t necessary.”

Federal law does not mandate how or whether insurance is provided during the health assessments and Pickard said he knows of no states that require care to continue during that time.

Pickard’s bill targets patients with chronic conditions that doctors judge they’re unlikely to ever recover from, which he says would likely not include cancer.

Other bills introduced Monday would ban plastic bags at all Nevada stores in five years, tax renewable energy producers and ban so-called “sanctuary cities” where local officials refuse to actively enforce immigration laws.

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