Imagine going to your healthcare provider and being told that your medication is no longer covered by your insurance. Kim and Gary Kitowski, of Columbia, IL, have faced that reality more than once. Kim, an Arthritis Foundation Ambassador, has lived with arthritis for more than 30 years and her husband, Gary, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis eight years ago. Because of step therapy, both have fought for access to medications that were prescribed by their doctors.
Step therapy, sometimes known as fail first, is a growing insurance industry practice that requires patients to try and fail other, cheaper medications before the insurance provider will cover medications originally prescribed by the treating physician. This practice undermines physicians’ ability to effectively treat their patients and can result in unnecessary disease progression, health setbacks, harmful side effects, significant emotional distress and increased costs.
Today, with the signing of House Bill 3549 into law, the Kitowski’s are celebrating another Arthritis Foundation Advocate victory to curb step therapy. More than 120 Advocates in Illinois contacted their legislator to vote ‘yes’ on the step therapy bill (House Bill 3549) and, due in large part to their efforts, this bill unanimously passed the House and Senate.
Championed by State Representative Laura Fine and sponsored by State Senator Julie Morrison, House Bill 3549 was signed into law by Governor Rauner on August 12, 2016 This bill puts safeguards in place, for people like the Kitowski’s, to help them get the medications they need, when they need it and as prescribed by their treating physicians.
Illinois Advocacy chair and longtime Arthritis Foundation volunteer, Cindy Copenhaver, echoes her thanks to Representative Fine, Senator Morrison and Governor Rauner for being Champions of Yes.
“Due to our fantastic advocates and amazing legislative sponsors, Illinois will now have a very strong patient access bill that not only helps the 2.3 million people in Illinois with arthritis, but helps patients with all types of chronic disease have access to the medication that is best suited for them,” said Copenhaver.
Being an Arthritis Foundation Advocate is easy and, as you can tell by this story, results in very meaningful changes for people living with arthritis. Learn more about our advocacy program and how you can become part of our passionate team of 132,000+ advocates!