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(TRENTON) - An Assembly panel has approved legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Herb Conaway, Jr., M.D. (D-Burlington) and Daniel Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex) that would ease access to prescription pain medication for patients who need it by requiring certain health insurance providers to cover prescription pain medication.
The bill, which was approved by the Assembly Appropriations Committee, last month, addresses the shortcomings of "step therapy" or "fail first" policies. Step therapy is the health insurance industry practice of having patients try less-expensive alternative medications before insurance companies will pay for the pain treatment initially prescribed by a doctor.
"The purpose of step therapy is to control costs and minimize risks, but for some patients, this method does not work," said Conaway. "To deny coverage for pain medication that has been prescribed by a doctor as the most effective way to alleviate a patient's pain is cruel. This bill puts the patient's well-being first and ensures they are able to get the medication they need when they need it."
"Telling patients that they cannot get the best pain medication available until they try a series of cheaper versions disregards the advice of their doctors and denies patients immediate relief," said Benson. "Treatment decisions should be made by physicians, not insurance companies."
Contact Eva Loayza at (609) 847-3500
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"Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, a Hudson County Democrat, is balking. He claimed Tuesday that members of his caucus are divided over the measure and that his house is in no real rush – besides, even if enacted this year, the reforms would not take effect until 2017, he said. And with the growing belief that Christie could skip town to run for president, some Democrats are not eager to give him another talking point for his résumé. Christie’s plans to stump for Republican candidates in New Hampshire later Thursday only fuel that suspicion." - columnist Charles Stile- The Bergen Record
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