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OAR’s First-Ever Virtual Advocacy Day

posted: December 9, 2020

On Friday, September 11th, 2020, the Ohio Association of Rheumatology (OAR), due to the ongoing COVID-19 public health emergency throughout Ohio, took the opportunity to have our first Virtual Advocacy Day. Even if we were unable to meet in-person at the Statehouse as we typically may, this was a valuable chance to advocate for our biggest legislative priorities to legislators through virtual conference calls.

OAR President Dr. Stephanie Ott along with OAR Board Member Dr. Edward Goldberger were on hand to participate in a series of virtual meetings with state Representatives Phil Plummer (R-Dayton), Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington), Thomas West (D-Canton), Niraj Antani (R-Miamisburg), Beth Liston (D-Dublin), DJ Swearingen (R-Huron), and Al Cutrona (R-Canfield). The two major issues up for discussion were the legislative proposals concerning non-medical switching and co-pay accumulators.

House Bill 418, introduced in November 2019, sought to eliminate non-medical switching practices and is the main legislative priority of OAR. The bill prohibits health plan issuers and Medicaid from increasing the patient’s share of the cost of a previously-approved pharmaceutical in any way, moving the pharmaceutical to a more restrictive tier of that patient’s health plan formulary, or removing the pharmaceutical from the formulary, unless directed to do so by the U.S. FDA due to health and safety concerns, or unless the drug manufacturer interrupts or discontinues sales in the United States. The bill was sponsored by Representatives Randi Clites (D-Ravenna) and Sara Carruthers (R-Hamilton).

House Bill 469, sponsored by Representative Susan Manchester (R-Waynesfield) and Thomas West (D- Canton), would require health plan issuers include all amounts paid by a covered individual or on a covered individual’s behalf when calculating the covered individual’s contribution toward a cost-sharing requirement. This would prohibit the use of practices or policies often referred to as co-pay accumulators. The bill was introduced in January 2020.

Although ultimately these issues did not get the chance to move past the finish line and become Ohio law this year, they will continue to be important for the OAR’s advocacy agenda in 2021. Advocacy is a process, and it was important that OAR was able to speak with legislators and educate them about these issues despite the obstacles of the COVID-19 pandemic this year.