Critical Patient Protection Legislation Passed the Virginia House and Senate with Unanimous Bipartisan Support; Virginia Would be the 20th State to Enact Step Therapy Reform
Richmond, VA (February 27, 2019): Fair Health Care VA, a coalition of patient, provider, and health care groups committed to securing access to life-saving treatments for Virginians, particularly those with chronic conditions, today applauded the General Assembly for passing House Bill 2126, which improves patient access to health care by reforming health insurance step therapy or “fail first” protocols. The bill, which passed the House and Senate with unanimous bipartisan support, now goes to Governor Northam for signature. Virginia is now the 20th state in the nation to pass step therapy reform legislation.
“All Virginians applaud the Virginia General Assembly for unanimously passing Delegate Glenn Davis’ step therapy improvement bill, HB 2126. Patients and physicians throughout the Commonwealth will now have fewer barriers to appropriate therapies when the patient’s unique circumstances need personalized treatment,” said Dr. Harry Gewanter, a pediatric rheumatologist in Richmond, Advocacy Chair of the Arthritis Foundation’s Virginia Chapter, and a Fair Health Care VA advocate. “We look forward to Governor Northam quickly signing this bill into law to ensure that the patient-physician relationship remains at the center of care decisions.”
Step therapy protocols, implemented by insurance companies, traditionally require a patient to try, and fail, on one or more medications before they can begin the treatment plan originally prescribed by their doctor. In some cases, patients who have already failed on these medications must fail a second, or even third time, before receiving the lifesaving treatment they need – all because they switched insurance providers. HB 2126, introduced by Delegate Glenn Davis (R-Virginia Beach), improves step therapy protocols by creating an expedited, transparent, and evidence-based system when a patient’s unique situation requires a deviation from step therapy.
“I applaud the House of Delegates and the Senate for supporting this critical legislation to help patients across Virginia who have their own stories about step therapy, including being denied effective care for their chronic, complex conditions,” said Delegate Glenn Davis. “I urge Governor Northam to sign HB 2126 to help improve this process for patients across the state.”
“As a patient who has experienced step therapy, I know how important it is for patients to have access to the high-quality care they need, not just the treatment that happens to be cheapest,” said Tom Ema, a patient advocate with the Coalition. “I tried and failed three times on the same chemotherapy for my stage four lymphoma before I was finally able to get the life-saving cure that resulted in my first cancer-free scan in 20 years. I’m heartened that step therapy reform has passed the General Assembly and patients will now be able to access the treatment prescribed by their doctor immediately.”
About Fair Health Care VA
Fair Health Care VA is a coalition of more than a dozen patient, provider, and health care groups committed to making sure Virginians living with chronic health conditions have access to the life-saving treatments they need. Fair Health Care VA works to raise awareness and educate patients about their rights when it comes to accessing their medications. The coalition supports policies that protect patient access to the treatments they need.