amy barron platinum arthritis ambassador

Platinum Ambassador Spotlight: Amy Barron, OHIO


 By Amy Barron, Platinum Ambassador, OH Advocacy Committee

I am privileged to serve as a member of the Arthritis Foundation’s Ohio State Advocacy Committee. Advocacy committees like mine help to chart the course of local and state-wide advocacy action for our arthritis community. Many of our committee members serve as Arthritis Foundation Advocates and Ambassadors, at both the state and federal level.

As our advocacy committee set our goals for 2018, we were reminded by our chair, Carol Arbaczewski that, “Our goals should be ones we feel strongly about and are willing to take on.”  Limiting burdensome use of an insurance practice called Step Therapy is an Arthritis Foundation priority at both the state and federal levels and an issue we were all passionate about.  Step therapy, also known as “fail first protocol,” is when an insurer requires patients to try a less expensive treatment, or series of treatments, before they can access the medication their physician deems most effective.

Many states have enacted legislation that limits step therapy. In 2017, the first ever federal bill to address step therapy was introduced to Congress by Representatives Brad Wenstrup (R-OH-2) and Raul Ruiz (D-CA-36).  The Congressmen looked at the successful state legislation as a model for introducing H.R. 2077, the Restoring the Patient’s Voice Act. As physicians, both Congressman Wenstrup and Ruiz have seen firsthand how step therapy can negatively impact the patient-physician relationship and knew that limiting step therapy was a bipartisan issue.

Congressman Wenstrup says, “The physician should have the final say in prescribing the medication for the patient, not someone who hasn’t even seen the patient.  Let’s keep healthcare patient-centered!”

The Ohio Advocacy Committee came up with the idea to have an Advocate Webinar to discuss the federal step therapy bill, The Restoring the Patient’s Voice Act of 2017, with Ohio Representative Rep. Brad Wenstrup (OH-D-2) as a guest speaker.  It would be informative for not only Arthritis Foundation Advocates, but for advocates from other coalitions which are supporting this important piece of legislation.

The next step was to see if we could secure Rep. Wenstrup as a guest speaker. The Congressman and I have known each other for years.  He was my physician, was influential in guiding my son toward podiatry school, and is my parents’ representative. Ironically, he was the speaker at a local event I was attending. I thanked him for introducing step therapy legislation at the federal level, and asked him if he would be the guest speaker for our Advocate Webinar Series.

He readily agreed and suggested I contact his scheduler. Working through my staff contact at his Cincinnati office, I was introduced to the scheduler in his DC office.  We were able to coordinate a time and date for the webinar. Our goal had been reached!

Our advocacy committee is proud that we were able to secure Rep. Wenstrup as a guest speaker for our Webinar on Step Therapy. Being a part of the advocacy committee is a really rewarding part of my personal arthritis advocacy. You can get involved in your state’s advocacy committee by reaching out to the State Director that covers your state!

If you have experienced step therapy you can take action today to share your story and be a patient voice calling on Congress to limit the use of this practice. The more we raise our voices together, the louder our message to elected officials will be!

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