Ohio House passes bill to ban
The Ohio House on Wednesday passed unopposed a long-delayed bipartisan bill that aims to make Ohioans better able to afford potentially life-saving drugs.
The bill prohibits a practice known as copayment accumulating, in which health insurers refuse to count any copayment assistance that patients may receive from drugmakers, churches, organizations nonprofit or family members in the patient’s maximum annual payment.
House Bill 135, supported by more than five dozen groups ranging from the Ohio State Medical Association to The AIDS Institute, was passed unanimously by the House Health Committee on March 16, 2021. a year in the middle of the opposition from health insurers and drug benefit managers.
“It’s been a long time coming,” said Vandalia’s Julie Turner, who ran into a copay hoarder that made it harder to get the drugs she needed to treat bones weakened by bones. intense radiation and chemotherapy treatments decades ago when she had stage 3 Hodgkin’s disease. like a teenager.
“This is going to help a lot of people, and not just cancer patients – those with chronic conditions who seek and get help with their medications,” said Turner, who watched the 89-0 vote from the galley of the House with several other cancer survivors.
Turner’s struggles, along with several others with rare or serious illnesses, were featured in a Dispatch article last summer on quota hoarders. Another Dispatch story on March 10 explored the reasons for the unusual delay in introducing the wildly popular bill.
Tears of joy as long-delayed bill finally passes unopposed
Ohio would join 12 other states and Puerto Rico in protecting voters from copayment manipulation by health insurers. Fifteen other states are considering similar legislation.
After the landslide vote, former state Rep. Randi Clites of Ravenna stood in the back of the House chamber with tears in her eyes.
“That’s why I ran for Congress in the first place,” said the Democrat, whose son, Colton, 20, was born with severe hemophilia. Clites, who was a lawmaker in 2019 and 2020, said her health insurance costs $6,350 a month.
“It’s financially ruinous for a lot of our families,” she said.
Now policy director of the Ohio Bleeding Disorders Council, Clites said nine out of 10 insurers on the Ohio Affordable Care Act exchange currently have some form of accumulator program that prevents co-pay assistance to count towards maximum deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses. .
Bipartisan co-sponsors say proposal would reduce Ohio drug costs
The endorsement came during Cancer Action Day at the Statehouse. The Ohio Branch of the American Cancer Society honored the co-sponsors of HB 135 on Wednesday morning: Representatives Susan Manchester, R-Waynesfield and Thomas West, D-Canton.
Only those lawmakers testified on the measure, which now goes to the Senate.
Manchester said HB 135 would “remove discriminatory administrative practices that negatively impact consumers trying to beat their mandatory health insurance cost-sharing practices.”
The legislation ‘is needed to help our constituents who increasingly find themselves subject to more out-of-pocket costs as part of their insurance coverage‘.
West called the proposal “a patient-friendly bill at its very essence.” And it meets one of the main goals he asked voters to send him to Columbus: to reduce the cost of prescription drugs.
The more than a year’s delay was blamed on Rep. Bill Seitz, a Cincinnati-area GOP leader who ended up settling for an amendment to the bill.
“So there were differences that we had to work on, and even some clarifications that needed to be made,” Manchester said. “Look, at the end of the day, we were able to come together and get around this bill.”
Manchester said she hoped the bill would pass the Senate, particularly after it passed through the House without a dissenting vote.
“We want to ensure that patients continue to have access to their medicines and that ultimately they can access them at the lowest possible cost.”