[Baltimore Sun] MedChi: Maryland’s prescription rules needs an update | READER COMMENTARY

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Marylanders need the legislature to pass Senate Bill 791 and House Bill 932: “Health Insurance – Utilization Review – Revisions” which would address prior authorization of prescription drugs. These proposed revisions would bring much needed relief to patients and their health care practitioners.

As physicians, we and our staff navigate the complex process of prior authorization every day, which sometimes means spending hours on the phone with a health insurer convincing them that our patient needs a medication or needs to stay on a medication that’s already been working for them. For patients who suffer from a mental illness or who have complex health care needs that require maintenance medications, this process often ends with the patient being told to stop the patient’s current, proven medication and switch to a less-costly alternative.

While we understand the need to control health care costs, patients shouldn’t have to wait days, weeks or months to get needed medication or have to regularly switch from a medication that has already been proven effective. We far too often see how this attempt at cost savings has devastating consequences on our patients’ health. It doesn’t have to be that way.

As president of MedChi, The Maryland State Medical Society, I applaud the Maryland General Assembly for thoughtfully examining this issue that, unfortunately, has or will impact every Marylander at some point in their life. SB 791 and HB 932 contain commonsense approaches that will improve the prior authorization process for patients and their health care practitioners. Let’s all work together to get Marylanders the care they need and deserve.

— Benjamin Lowentritt, M.D., Reisterstown

The writer is president of The Maryland State Medical Society.

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