On May 19, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton signed HB 3196 into law! Step therapy legislation gives physicians a clear path toward getting their patients the medications they need.
Having access to affordable, effective and specialized medication is critical for the 54 million Americans living with doctor-diagnosed arthritis nationwide, including over 900,000 in Minnesota. The Arthritis Foundation thanks the bill’s sponsors and Gov. Dayton for helping provide these patient protections to Minnesotans.
Step Therapy is a practice used by insurers that requires people with arthritis to try lower-cost medications before allowing more expensive treatments, despite a physician’s recommendation.
Ted Cadwell, Minnesota resident and advocacy chair for the Arthritis Foundation, shared that “this legislation is a way to show how states like Minnesota are leading the way to innovative solutions to shape health care for patients, health care providers and the broader health care system.”
The Arthritis Foundation was part of a step therapy coalition that worked diligently on the ground to move the bill through six hearings in a few months. Advocates took a lead role in increasing awareness of the bill by participating in the coalition’s Step Therapy Day. Ted Cadwell testified in two committee hearings the following week. His testimony dramatically impacted the legislators in the House and Senate and they unanimously passed the bills out of committee the same night he testified.
Minnesota advocacy committee member, Kitty Szarkowski-Boder, and her son, Nicholas Boder-Szarkowski, were featured in a CCX Media online article, celebrating the passage of the bill before the governor signed it.
The article tells the story of 21-year-old Nicholas, who was diagnosed with arthritis at age 2. He has arthritis in every joint in his body and was bedridden for three years. Despite his chronic condition, Nicholas had to wait a year and a half before he was able to get the medicine his doctor first prescribed. While this bill won’t benefit him now, he hopes it will help future patients like him.
His mother is not only an Advocate for her son, but also to countless Minnesota patients who are in the same boat. She doesn’t want anyone to go through what her son had to endure.
Minnesota now joins many other states that have already passed laws to put commonsense guardrails on health plans’ step therapy protocols.
You can learn more about advocacy and amplifying your voice by becoming an Arthritis Foundation Advocate! Sign up today!