Kansas Lawmakers Approve ‘Step Therapy’ and Welfare Reform Bill


Kansas legislators approved a health and public welfare bill Monday that would reduce prescription drug costs within the state’s Medicaid program and make changes to eligibility for public assistance.


Senators voted 27-13 in favor of the measure early Monday after the House approved it in a 79-43 vote. The measure will now go to Gov. Sam Brownback, who has touted welfare reform in the past.


The Kansas House initially voted 69-52 against the measure Sunday, sending it to a conference committee where negotiators added more patient protections to the so-called step therapy provision that would require participants to try a less expensive drug before being allowed to get a more expensive one.


However, patients with multiple sclerosis would be able to switch to another drug after a 30-day trial if the medication is found unsuitable for them. Patients who have already tried a drug and discontinued it because it was ineffective or had adverse effects also would be exempted from the therapy.


A provision in the measure also requires that the organization administering the drug respond to a physician’s request to override the step-therapy requirement within 72 hours.


Republican leaders saw the measure as crucial to resolving budget issues because it would reduce the state’s costs in providing health coverage to poor and disabled residents by nearly $11 million a year.


Republican Rep. Barbara Bollier, of Mission Hills, said during a House debate late Sunday that the move to cut costs undermined the needs of poor people. “It’s a way of people meddling in medical practice rather than letting the doctors do what’s best for the patient,” she said.


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The Topeka Capital-Journal       Published on May 2, 2016

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