Megan Testa, MD, testifies on behalf of SB 56 - step therapy reform
On March 7, OPPA chair of Government Relations, Megan Testa, MD testified in support of Senate Bill 56 - a bill which would put safeguards in place for when insurance companies utilize a cost containment strategy known as step therapy - more accurately referred to as "fail first."
Before members of the Senate Health, Human Services and Medicaid Committee, Dr. Testa stated:
Step therapy or fail first policies can be harmful to all patients. As a psychiatric physician, I can testify that I have seen these policies have devastating outcomes for my patients with mental illness. Research and experience show that treating mental illness at its earliest onset with the most effective medication produces the best results, not only for the patient but for the patient's family and for the community.
Dr. Testa went on to share a portion of a recent opinion piece in the Journal of the American Medical Association:
When conceived and implemented intelligently, step therapy can use evidence-based criteria, with clinically reasonable provisions for exceptions, to encourage more rational prescribing and help control medication costs, while ensuring that patients are receiving the most data-driven regimens. However, if based on poor evidence or implemented inflexibly, the approach can cause clinical problems, especially for patients forced to return to a medication class that was previously ineffective. But all policies that require patients to change medications risk negative consequences. Even switches between pharmacologically identical generic versions of the same medication can decrease adherence if the medication appearances differ.