Mental health advocates question drug bill

A bill that requires Kansas doctors to prescribe cheaper medication first for Medicaid patients is drawing concern from mental health advocates.

Prescription drugs (KSN File Photo)

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) – Mental health advocates are raising concerns about a bill passed by Kansas lawmakers that would require doctors to try cheaper drugs before more expensive ones for Medicaid recipients.

The process, called step therapy, is common in many private and public health insurance plans. It was key to resolving budget issues because it would reduce the state’s cost of providing health care for poor residents by nearly $11 million a year. Gov. Sam Brownback is expected to sign the bill Monday.

Mental health advocates asked that drugs used to treat mental illnesses be exempt because prescribing the wrong drug would have severe consequences. Lawmakers who supported the bill say adequate safeguards are in place and that mental health advocates want an unfair exemption from a common practice that many insured patients face.

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