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Nixon signs health care related bills

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Four bills designed to bring Missourians greater access and freedom in healthcare were signed into law Wednesday by Gov. Jay Nixon

The bills include provisions related to the prescription of biological drugs, step therapy, Medicaid funding, the reporting of healthcare caused infections and the implementation of telehealth.

“We want to make sure that Missourians have access to the healthcare they need without an insurance company or regulatory red tape getting in the way,” Nixon said. “While there are only a small number of pharmaceuticals to which this currently applies, it is important that Missouri lays the groundwork on this issue to help more patients in the future as this field of medicine expands.”

SB 875 allows a pharmacist filling a prescription order for a brand name biological product to select a less expensive interchangeable biological product. The substitute has been approved by the FDA to be an interchangeable biological product. SB 875 was sponsored by Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, and handled by Rep. Tila Hubrecht, R-Dexter, in the House.

“We believe a coherent policy outlining the parameters and process for safe substitution of interchangeable biologics for all health care stakeholders – prescribers, pharmacists, payers and manufacturers – will ensure patients have access to high quality, safe and effective medicines,” said Dan Mehan, president and CEO of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “Missouri is taking the lead in both the research and manufacture of biologics and biosimilars by ensuring state laws are consistent and aligned with other pro-business states.”

Mehan also welcomed the signing of SB 875 as an important step in lowering costs for patients, and with that employers, while also making things a little bit easier on manufacturers.

“It means significant savings for Missouri employers, since a large portion of health care coverage costs are shouldered by employers who provide health benefits for employees,” he said.

HB 2029, sponsored by Rep. Denny Hoskins, R-Warrensburg, addresses step therapy and requires health insurance plans to provide a process to request a step therapy override determination, especially in cases where a patient has used the step therapy-required drugs recently.

HB 1534  extends by two years, until Sept. 30, 2018, the sunsets for the Ground Ambulance, Nursing Facility, Medicaid Managed Care Organization, Hospital, Pharmacy, and Intermediate Care Facility for the Intellectually Disabled Reimbursement Allowance Taxes. These taxes are all used to help draw funds for Medicaid. HB 1534 was sponsored by Rep. Tom Flanigan, R-Carthage.

SB 579, sponsored by Sen. Rob Schaaf, R-St. Joseph, and handled in the House by Rep. Keith Frederick, R-Rolla, streamlines the process hospitals use to report healthcare associated infections by requiring that hospitals use the federal National Healthcare Safety Network, rather than a separate, state-run system.

It also included the telehealth legislation sponsored by Sen. Gary Romine, R-Farmington, known in the 2016 session as SB 621. That legislation defines and sets up regulations for telehealth in the state.