Kentucky Bill to Remove Prior Authorization Aims to Help Opioid Users Get Treatment

Western Kentucky University | February 19, 2019

It was a Friday afternoon, and a young man the doctor called him “J” needed help. J was addicted to heroin. The doctor, Mike Kalfas, had treated him several times before with buprenorphine, a drug that blocks opioid cravings and is part of a class of drugs most successful in keeping patients in recovery. J had recently gotten out of jail on a drug-related charge, Kalfas said. There, he’d had to stop using buprenorphine because it wasn’t available. “I wrote him the prescription, and it’s 5:30 p.m. on a Friday when he left my office,” Kalfas told Kentucky lawmakers earlier this month. “About 6:30 p.m. the paper comes over the fax machine, denying his medication.”

Spotlight

The affordability of prescription drugs is a pressing concern for many Americans, with broad agreement across the political spectrum that lowering prescription drug costs should be a top priority for Congress. The Trump Administration, members of Congress, and several 2020 presidential candidates have offered proposals to lower drug prices. Many of these proposals would affect prescription drug spending under Medicare, which accounts for 30 percent of national retail spending on drugs and nearly $1 out of every $5 in total Medicare spending (Figure 1).

Spotlight

The affordability of prescription drugs is a pressing concern for many Americans, with broad agreement across the political spectrum that lowering prescription drug costs should be a top priority for Congress. The Trump Administration, members of Congress, and several 2020 presidential candidates have offered proposals to lower drug prices. Many of these proposals would affect prescription drug spending under Medicare, which accounts for 30 percent of national retail spending on drugs and nearly $1 out of every $5 in total Medicare spending (Figure 1).

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