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Capitol Report: Society weighs in on step therapy, vaccination bills

A bill clarifying health insurance company procedures related to “step therapy” and another bill related to supervised pharmacy students being allowed to administer prescribed vaccinations garnered Society support on Wednesday in the State Capitol at a rare joint public hearing of the State Assembly and Senate health care committees.

The step therapy proposal, bipartisan companion bills authored by Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, and Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, sets out clearer requirements insurers must follow when they create a step therapy protocol and requires certain exceptions to be granted when the prescriber submits complete, clinically relevant written documentation supporting the patient’s request. The Society played a part in the development of the substitute amendment for the proposal and joined with many other health care and patient advocacy supporting the bill, including Society member Joanna Bisgrove, MD, who testified on behalf of the Wisconsin Academy of Family Physicians.

The Society also supports a bipartisan pharmacists/vaccinations proposal, authored by Senate Health and Human Services Committee Chair Patrick Testin, R-Stevens Point, and Assembly Health Committee Vice Chair Rep. Tony Kurtz, R-Wonewoc, that eliminates patient age restrictions for a pharmacist to administer a physician-issued vaccine and also allows pharmacy students under the direct supervision of a pharmacist to administer vaccinations. The bill requires that information be submitted to the Wisconsin Immunization Registry within seven days.

Wednesday’s public hearing for the proposal was the first time this legislative session that we have seen vaccine-skeptical organizations testify against a vaccination-related bill. Individuals from organizations such as “Wisconsin United for Freedom” expressed concerns about vaccination safety and the threat of injury or death from adverse reactions, and called for greater patient informed consent regarding ingredients in vaccinations. These well-organized efforts have been hampering vaccination efforts in other states, even as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported a national spike in diseases like measles, which had been considered “eliminated” in 2000. Society lobbyist Mark Grapentine, JD, closed the public hearing with the Society’s support for greater vaccination access, including proposals such as the one before the committees.

You can view a recording of the joint hearing on WisconsinEye. Contact Mark Grapentine, JD, for more information.

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