Category Archives: News

arthritis foundation hill briefing US economy

Arthritis Foundation to Host a Hill Briefing on the Rising Cost of Arthritis to the U.S. Economy

On Thursday, February 1, the Arthritis Foundation and American College of Rheumatology (ACR) – along with seven other health advocacy organizations – will host a briefing on Capitol Hill urging lawmakers to increase research funding at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) to combat the nation’s leading cause of disability.

New data reveals the stunning impact of arthritis on the U.S. economy. Between 2003 and 2013, the annual cost of arthritis more than doubled and now totals $304 billion in direct and indirect costs, according to a CDC-sponsored study published in the September 2017 edition of Arthritis Care & Research. These figures include both higher medical costs to patients, as well as lost earnings from individuals who are unable to work due to their condition.

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21st Century Cures Act

Answering Your Questions About the New Tax Reform Legislation

On Wednesday, December 20, Congress passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). There were several health-related changes included in the legislation, such as a repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, and changes to the medical expenditure tax deduction. Below we explain the key health provisions that made it into the final law, how it may impact you, and what’s next.

Let’s start with the individual mandate.
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american health care act

Answering Your Questions About the Latest Administration Actions on Health Care

On Thursday, October 12, 2017, the Administration took two actions on health care that could affect coverage for people who have health insurance through the exchanges.

President Trump signed an executive order that opens the door for the expansion of association health plans, which aren’t subject to the same level of patient protections as required by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Second, the Administration announced the discontinuation of cost-sharing reduction payments, which are payments to health insurers that help reduce out-of-pocket costs for low income people who purchase insurance on the health exchanges.

Read on to learn more about the Administration’s actions and their potential impacts on the arthritis community.

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Texas Step Therapy Win

Victory in Texas – Legislation Limits Step Therapy

Exciting news in Texas! On May 23, Governor Greg Abbott signed Senate Bill 680 into law, limiting the use of step therapy. Texas now joins a growing number of states that have enacted laws that regulate the use of step therapy. With over 4 million adults and 24,900 kids with doctor-diagnosed arthritis in Texas, this is a major victory!

Step therapy is used by health insurance providers to control the order and use of prescriptions drugs. A patient could be required to try and fail lower-cost or other drugs selected by their insurance provider before coverage is granted for the drug prescribed by the patient’s treating physician. For patients, this barrier to care prevents timely access to doctor prescribed treatments and can be the difference between full mobility and joint damage.
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Maryland Biosimilars Advocacy

Victory for Maryland! Biosimilar Bill Signed by the Governor!

We applaud Maryland Governor Larry Hogan for joining 28 other states in creating a pathway for the substitution of biologic medications with biosimilars by signing the Pharmacists – Substitution and Dispensing of Biological Products bill into law.

Biologics are life altering drugs for people with arthritis and are very complex products made with living cells. Because of this complexity they are expensive. Biosimilars, are a new class of drugs that are similar to biologics. They have the potential to lower medication costs.
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california arthritis 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? Continue reading California Advocates Work for Passage of Bill That Will Improve Continuity of Care When Insurance Carrier Changes

Iowa State Capitol

Victory in Iowa! Governor Branstad Signs into Law a Bill to Curb Step Therapy!

The Iowa arthritis community is celebrating Governor Branstad signing into law House File 233 on May 10, 2017.

The bill, unanimously passed by both chambers, puts limits on an insurance industry protocol known as step therapy which requires patients to try and fail medications identified by the insurance company before agreeing to cover medications prescribed by the treating physician. The bill will increase access to care for arthritis patients by limiting step therapy practices in Iowa.
Continue reading Victory in Iowa! Governor Branstad Signs into Law a Bill to Curb Step Therapy!

Washington DC Arthritis Advocacy Victory

The Nation’s Capital Caps the Out-of-Pocket Costs of Medications

Congratulations D.C. Advocates! Because of your efforts, Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser signed the Specialty Drug Copayment Limitation Act. In the law, “specialty drug” means a prescription drug that is prescribed for a person with a physical, behavioral, or developmental condition that may have no known cure, is progressive, or can be debilitating or fatal if left untreated or undertreated, such as multiple sclerosis, hepatitis C and rheumatoid arthritis.
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West Virginia Step Therapy

Step Therapy Win in West Virginia!

Step therapy is a cost saving tactic used by insurers that requires people with arthritis and other potentially debilitating conditions to try and fail lower-cost medications before covering more expensive treatments. In other words, insurance companies oftentimes disregard treating physicians’ knowledge of their patients and related expertise, forcing patients to try cheaper medications, all to save a few dollars.
Continue reading Step Therapy Win in West Virginia!