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Health News Florida: Access-to-Drugs Bill Gains Steam

Mari Velar, who has lupus and osteoporosis, has bones as fragile as butterfly wings. 

To keep them from breaking, she depends on an IV drip of a bone-strengthening fluid, which costs a lot more than pills. Whenever she has a new plan or new doctor, she has to switch to the cheaper therapy until she begins to itch.

“In order to appease the doctor, I have to try the drug and show them the hives and prove to them that I cannot take the drug,” says the 54-year-old Tampa woman.

Florida Sen. Don Gaetz says that what happens to patients like Velar is an abuse of managed care. Gaetz, a Republican from the Panhandle town of Niceville, is sponsoring the “Right Medicine, Right Time Act” to fight it.

Senate Bill 784 is on Monday’s agenda of the Senate Health Policy Committee. It passed the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee unanimously on March 4.

At that hearing, Gaetz explained it this way: “Sometimes insurance companies disagree with doctors, and tell patients, ‘Before we’ll agree to you receiving this treatment or that medicine, you’ll have to fail first with one or more other interventions. Then we’ll see if we’ll cover the treatment your doctors have prescribed.’”

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