Patient Advocates, Lawmakers, and Doctors Call for an End to Drug Formulary Changes in the Middle of the Year

CID-NYGuest post by Heidi Siegfried, MSW, J.D.,  Project Director of New Yorkers for Accessible Health Coverage.

Survey results were released last week showing that a majority of New Yorkers living with chronic or rare medical conditions have had the experience their insurance company changing their drug coverage in the middle of the year. They do this by eliminating a drug from the formulary or changing the co-pay – a practice that raises costs on consumers and can disrupt their medical treatment.

On behalf of 36 patient and provider groups, Global Healthy Living conducted a survey that found that nearly two–thirds (65%) of New York residents with chronic illnesses had to switch to a different medication than the one that was prescribed due to a change in coverage.

  • 54% had to try multiple medications before finding another medication that worked for them
  • 72% reported that their new medication worked somewhat or much worse than the originally prescribed medication
  • 51% experienced side effects after switching
  • 35% reported seeing their health care provider or going to the emergency room due to the complications following a switch
  • 10% reported being hospitalized after a switch

Disrupting the continuity of care and delaying effective treatment can result in detrimental life threatening consequences and can actually lead to more medical complications, expensive hospitalizations, emergency room use, and higher health care costs.  It can also discourage consumers from continuing with needed treatment due to side effects or because drug failure erodes their trust in medication. Few health plans have robust exceptions or appeals processes to protect consumers who may depend upon particular drugs for their care when formularies are changed.  However, it this happens to you and you need help to use your plan’s appeal process, you can contact Consumer Health Advocates for assistance.
Patient and Consumer Advocates like Center for Independence of the Disabled, doctors, and legislators are calling for passage of legislation, S5022-C (Serino)/A2317-C (Peoples-Stokes) to prohibit insurance companies and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) from switching drug coverage in the middle of the year when patients cannot change their health insurance until the next open enrollment period.  The Assembly passed the legislation earlier this year and has approved it the last four years.

highfive-01-800pxLast night, Senate Republicans failed in their last ditch effort to repeal the ACA and dismantle Medicaid. A huge thank you to our members, partners, and friends for all of your hard work and activism over the last nine months.

Your resistance is the reason they keep failing.

Unfortunately, the fight is not over. The President is still threatening to end Cost Sharing Reduction payments that reduce out of pocket costs for moderate income Americans and there is a House budget proposal that would cut trillions of dollars from Medicaid and other health care and entitlement programs over the next 10 years.

Seven of NY’s Representatives voted to pass an anti-health care bill in the House: Chris Collins, John Faso, Peter King, Tom Reed, Claudia Tenney, and Lee Zeldin. They may soon have another chance to decide our fate through the budget process – this Saturday, show them in person that those first votes were a mistake!

Here’s what you ca do to stay engaged:

  1. Join people across the country at demonstrations. We already know about events in places like BeaconKingstonDelhiNew HartfordNew York City, and Glens Falls. We’ll add events to our eventspage as soon as we learn about them so keep checking!
  2. You could also plan your own event! The Our Lives on the Linesite has some tools to help you do this, but all you really need to do is show up at your Representatives’ offices with signs or letters telling them not to support any bill that takes health care away from people.

We’ve come so far – and we won’t stop fighting now!

ProtestThe coverage gains and consumer protections achieved under the ACA and the Medicaid program that covers the most vulnerable New Yorkers are all at risk. The Senate could be voting on their Better Health Care Reconciliation Act that would take coverage away from more than 22 million people and end the Medicaid program as we know it as early as next week.

Join HCFANY MONDAY, July 17 at 1:15 PM for the “Take a Stand for Health Care” rally with Governor Andrew Cuomo at Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine in New York City to defend the ACA and Medicaid. Please register here.

Stern Auditorium

Icahn School of Medicine

Mt. Sinai Hospital

1468 Madison Avenue

New York, NY 10029

IMG_0044A few weeks ago, more than 70 members of HCFANY, Health Care for America Now-New York (HCAN), and Medicaid Matters New York (MMNY) from across the state gathered in Albany for the first joint New York State Health Advocates Spring Meeting. More than 50 consumers and advocates attended the press conference in front of the State Capitol about the then secret Senate Better Care Reconciliation Act bill. Several State Legislators also attended including: Assembly Member Richard Gottfried and Assembly Member Patricia Fahy. We were honored to have Margarida Jorge, Co-Executive Director of HCAN and the HCAN Education Fund, as a speaker at the press conference and as our keynote speaker. You can view WNYT coverage of the press conference here.

We heard updates from HCFANY, HCAN-New York, MMNY, Coverage 4 All (immigrant health), disability rights groups, and women’s health and LGBTQIA groups to learn more about what they are doing to fight for New York’s health care and how consumers can get involved. You can view slides from the presentation here. The meeting concluded with break out groups to plan ACA and Medicaid defense actions in different regions throughout New York State.