california-advocacy-summit

California Advocates Work for Passage of Bill That Will Improve Continuity of Care When Insurance Carrier Changes

It’s not uncommon for patients to change their insurance carriers. Sometimes it’s by choice, perhaps because they find a carrier that better suits their needs. Other times, it might be out of their control, like when their employment changes. Regardless of why carriers are changed, should patients be required to restart the utilization management process with their new insurance carrier, essentially starting over and potentially undoing years of effective and consistent care?

On May 8, 2017, we joined forces with the California Rheumatology Alliance and the National Psoriasis Foundation for our annual California Advocacy Summit. This event provided the opportunity for our Advocates from the Golden State to storm the Capitol in Sacramento and fight for issues, like Assembly Bill 1353, that are important to those with arthritis.

Authored by Assemblymember Marie Waldron (R-Escondido), Assembly Bill 1353 will ensure that patients who change their insurer do not have to repeat utilization management processes, like prior authorization, that they already went through with their previous insurer. If enacted, the bill will improve continuity of care and consistent access to coverage.

“Informed constituents shared their struggles of staying on their medications when their insurance changed,” said Karen Anderson, multi-time Arthritis Foundation Platinum Ambassador. “This is a big continuity of care issue that Assembly Bill 1353 seeks to resolve.”

Speaking on the importance of this bill Assemblymember Waldron said, “Continuity of care is critical for patients especially those with chronic conditions.  Keeping stable on a regimen or treatment without added stress improves patient outcomes and quality of life.”

More than 50 volunteer Advocates took part in the May 8 California Advocacy Summit. The event included educational sessions that took a deep dive into Assembly Bill 1353 and training on how to meet and communicate with legislators. Later that day, Advocates turned the morning’s lessons into action, making the short stroll over to the Capitol and meeting with legislators, urging for their support of Assembly Bill 1353.

Liz Helms, president and chief executive officer of the California Chronic Care Coalition and co-sponsor of Assembly Bill 1353, participated as the guest speaker and helped educate attendees on how the bill will help the arthritis community. Attendees held more than 80 meetings with legislative offices in just a four hour period.

“Participating in the California Advocacy Summit with my daughter has been an amazing experience,” said Gerica Coad, a veteran of the California Advocacy Summit and our Advocacy Summit in Washington, DC. “We are doing our part to make positive changes in the lives of those living with chronic conditions.  I also feel that it is important that I am teaching my daughter to embrace her juvenile arthritis diagnosis, learn from it and use that knowledge to help others.”

The California Summit on May 8 was by all measures a great success. We owe thanks to our partner organizations, the California Rheumatology Alliance and the National Psoriasis Foundation, the California legislators and their staff and, most of all, our amazing Advocates in California!

“I would like to thank all the volunteer Advocates for participating in the very successful California State Summit,” said Dr. Wesley Mizutani, MD, chair of the Arthritis Foundation’s California Advocacy Committee. “It was awesome to see so many first time Advocates at the California Summit. The solid foundation built by this year’s event will pave the way for novel and critical legislation supporting those affected by arthritis.”

While we have made great steps forward with Assembly Bill 1353, there’s more work to be done as the bill still needs to pass the legislative process and get signed into law, and other access to care issues plague chronically ill patients in California. You can help by joining our Advocate program. For more information, contact Steven Schultz at sschultz@arthritis.org.

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