Patient Protection Bill Moves Forward
There was a subcommittee this week on SSB 1072, a bill related to the use of step therapy protocols for prescription drugs. Currently, under Medicaid Managed Care, step therapy protocols are used to help keep healthcare costs lower and control the risks posed by prescription drugs. The practice begins medication for a medical condition with the most cost-effective drug therapy and progresses to other more costly or risky therapies only if necessary. This process is also called step protocol or a fail first requirement, and is a type of prior authorization requirement.
The bill discusses legislative findings that step therapy protocols are increasingly being used by health carriers, health benefit plans, and utilization review organizations to control health care costs. Step therapy protocols based on well-developed scientific standards and flexibly administered can play an important role in controlling health care costs. The findings also show in some cases use of such protocols can have adverse or dangerous consequences for the person for whom the drugs are prescribed. In those cases, step therapy is inappropriate regardless of the cost to insurance companies.
The bill also includes findings that uniform policies for the use of such protocols that preserve a health care professional’s right to make treatment decisions and providing for exceptions to the use of such protocols are in the public interest. The bill highlights the fact that nothing should come between the doctor and the patient when making such important medical decisions.
Recent trends in prescription drug prices in the United States have led to increased pressure on health care providers to keep down the cost of prescription medication while maintaining high levels of availability to the patient. The use of generic drugs when possible allows health care plans to pursue both goals effectively.
As the bill moves through the legislative process, it is important to weigh both the needs of the patients and insurance providers. While this process can help control costs and prescription drug risks, we don’t want to impact patients through decisions which cause adverse impacts to the health of the patient.
SF 1 Jobs Impact Statements for Administrative Rules
At the beginning of this session, we set out a number of priorities for the coming months. One of those priorities is Senate File 1, which requires a job impact statement for administrative rules. This would put into code what is currently found in Executive Order 71. We believe this is so important to job growth in Iowa, we want to codify this requirement so future governors cannot remove this requirement with the stroke of a pen.
Jobs impact statements identify the purpose of a rule and the anticipated costs for state agencies, local governments, the public, regulated industries (including regulated businesses and self-employed individuals) to comply, and whether a rule would have a positive or negative impact on private sector jobs and employment opportunities in Iowa.
Additionally, they also include which categories of jobs will be impacted, the number of jobs, and which regions of the state will be impacted by the rule, as well as additional costs to employers due to implementation of the rule. The bill requires agencies take steps to minimize adverse impacts on jobs prior to implementation of the rule.
This bill will help ensure businesses and jobs are not overburdened by excessive regulations from the State. Requiring a jobs impact statement forces agencies to consider how a rule will impact jobs, a consideration which is vital to creating job growth in our state.
School Funding Equity
One common issue I discussed in the district related to education and education funding is the challenge of school funding for rural schools. Rural schools cover a much larger geographic area than urban or suburban districts. Consequently, those districts have much higher costs per pupil to transport those students between school and home. All those dollars spent on transportation are then unavailable to spend in the classroom, creating more disparity in resources between rural schools and urban schools.
Senate Study Bill 1124 (SSB 1124), starts to bring equity to the funding levels between small and large geographic districts. Funds approved may only be spent on transportation costs.
This bill was approved in subcommittee this week and will be discussed in the Education Committee next week. This bill is important to many rural districts across the state as they seek to provide the best education to their students regardless of where they live in Iowa.
See you out and about the district.