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Health & Science

Ohio Lawmakers Consider Limiting Insurers Ability to Force Drug Substitutions

photo of Shannon Trotter with  Rep. Nickie Antonio  Sen. Peggy Lehner and  Sen. Charleta Tavares
: (from left to right) Shannon Trotter, Ohio Dermatological Association president; Rep. Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood); Sen. Peggy Lehner (R-Kettering); Sen. Charleta Tavares (D-Columbus) show their support for bills to limit the use of “step therapy.” ";s:

Lawmakers are gearing up for a debate with health-insurance companies over a controversial drug prescription process which insurers say can be used to cut costs.

Sometimes when a patient gets a prescription filled, the health insurance company intervenes and requires using a cheaper drug first. It's called “step therapy.”

A bipartisan group of lawmakers are proposing a bill that would make sure there’s a clinical reason for the process , and it's not used just to save money.

Shannon Trotter, a dermatologist from Springfield, says step therapy doesn’t always save money anyway.

“Why give something that’s less expensive when you know it’s not going to work and spend the time (and) money on that when you’re adding additional costs.”

The Ohio Association of Health Plans opposed a similar bill last year. They defend step therapy as a way to ensure that safer, more cost-effective drugs are used first.