This is a follow up to the very successful Step Therapy Reform Advocacy
Day this past Monday. There were media stories throughout New York State
generated by the several people who came forward and discussed the impact
of Step Therapy to their own life as well as to the several doctors who
came forward and discussed the impact to their patients. We applaud their
courage in coming out and telling their stories. We also thank our sponsors
Senator Young and Assemblymember Titone for their passion in supporting
this legislation and recognizing the positive impact it can have for
thousands of New Yorkers


May 23, 2016
Jennifer Daly | 860.398.3916 |


S.3419B/A.2834B has the support of more than 60 advocacy organizations

(Albany, N.Y.) – Nearly one hundred patients, physicians and patient
advocacy organizations from across the state came together in Albany today
to urge lawmakers to pass legislation to ensure better access to
medications doctors prescribe in New York State.

S.3419B /A.2834B is aimed at regulating the insurance industry protocol
known as step therapy, or fail first. When step therapy is imposed on a
patient, they are forced to try and fail medications other than what their
doctor has prescribed before their insurer will pay for the initial

Step therapy is a cost savings tool for the insurance industry, but can be
harmful to patients physically, financially, and emotionally causing an
undue stress and delay in getting the proper treatment and in some cases a
worsening of a person’s medical condition.

Legislation proposed by Senator Catharine Young and Assemblyman Matthew
Titone (S.3419B/ A.2834B) will give doctors a transparent process to seek
exceptions for patients needing a particular treatment. The bill does not
ban step therapy or the number of steps an insurer can implement.

“Good healthcare policy means getting people the care they need” said
Senator Young. “Far too many of our family members or friends have been
affected by serious diseases that need the right medication, right away.
Passing this legislation will ensure that doctors remain in control of
their patients’ care.”

“Saving money at the risk of patient’s health isn’t the way to make the
system work and it is quite frankly irresponsible,” said Assemblyman
Titone. “When making life changing decisions regarding health, patients and
doctors don’t need unnecessary interference from the insurance industry,
and this legislation ensures there won’t be.”

More than a dozen states are considering or have passed step therapy
legislation. Connecticut passed step therapy reforms in 2013. In the last
several weeks Indiana, West Virginia and Missouri have passed similar
bills. Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Ohio and North Carolina have also taken
up the issue this legislative session.

Step therapy use is increasing steadily. In 2010, nearly 60% of commercial
insurers were using step therapy. In 2012, 54% of plans reported using step
therapy for drugs to treat cancer, up from 36% in the prior year.

“When I was finally diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis, I felt a bit of
relief because at least I knew what was causing my pain and, now, my doctor
and I could finally work to manage it,” said Dani Askin, a Brooklyn
resident and volunteer patient advocate for the Global Healthy Living
Foundation. “But when my insurer said no to the treatment plan my doctor
and I decided was best for me, I couldn’t believe it. They wanted me to try
and then fail on medications that came with serious side effect warnings,
including certain types of cancer. As a mother of four kids, that’s not a
risk I’m willing to take, nor one that I think should be forced upon me.
My doctor and I know what’s best for me, and I should have access to that

“I’d like to thank Senator Young and Assemblyman Titone for their
leadership on the step therapy issue in New York,” said Patrick Stone,
Associate Director of State Government Relations, National Psoriasis
Foundation. “We have a robust coalition that includes patients from a wide
variety of disease states—that alone tells you how many patients step
therapy protocols affect. This is not a singular issue, this is an issue
that could impact every New Yorker—whether you’re healthy now or living
with a chronic disease.”

Step therapy protocols bypass the medical expertise of doctors in favor of
pre-determined prescription drug formulary, patients are often told they
need to fail on several medications before they will have access to the
doctor’s prescription.

“Far too often, the treatment decisions made by my colleagues and I are
second guessed or overturned by insurance companies looking to save money,
at the expense of the health of patients” said Dr. Mark Lebwohl, Immediate
Past President, American Academy of Dermatology and practicing
dermatologist, New York City. “We can’t let patient’s health decline while
waiting for the medication their doctor knows will be successful. Medicine
is not one size fits all. As doctors, we are the experts in what’s best
for the patients we treat.”

“Patients today have a much better chance of early diagnosis and management
of chronic diseases that just a few years ago could be fatal. But we can
only continue to advance the fight against these diseases if people have
access to the proper medications in a timely manner, “said Karen Waldron,
Chair for the Board of Trustees, Multiple Sclerosis Society Upstate Chapter.

S.3419B/A.2834B is supported by more than 60 patient and provider
organizations from across New York State and the nation. A full list of
those organizations is attached.


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