KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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N.C. Lawmakers Investigate Insurers’ Cost-Controlling ‘Fail First’ Method

More and more companies are employing step therapy, often called "fail first," in which the patients must try cheaper drugs before they can get the expensive ones they need. Doctors are frustrated that some of their patients are having to try drugs they know won't work just to jump through hoops for the insurers. In other state legislature news, Iowa lawmakers meet with psychiatrists and psychologists about a change to prescription laws, and the Georgia House passes a bill allowing tax credits for donating money to rural health care.

North Carolina Health News: Lawmakers Weigh Drug Costs And Patient Frustrations
For many patients with complex diseases such as multiple sclerosis or rheumatoid arthritis, new drugs hold out the promise of a cure or, at least, keeping symptoms at bay. But for many of those patients, those same drugs can be wildly expensive. For patients with severe psoriasis, the new drug, Otezia, has an estimated wholesale price of $22,500. And Avonex, a drug to treat multiple sclerosis, has seen its price soar past $60,00 a year, up more than 350 percent since 2013. (Hoban, 2/25)

The Des Moines Register: Psychologists Seek OK To Prescribe Pills
Iowa legislators met with psychologists and psychiatrists all over the Statehouse Tuesday — but not to discuss their personal issues. Psychologists were at the Capitol to seek authority to prescribe mental-health medications. Psychiatrists were lobbying to block the change. Psychologists traditionally focus on counseling. Psychiatrists, who are physicians, often write prescriptions for drugs to counter depression, anxiety, psychoses and other mental-health problems. (Leys, 2/24)

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