Sen. Gordon, Sen. Hwang Applaud Passage of SB 6 to Improve Patient Access to Medication

May 19, 2023
State Sen. Jeff Gordon (R-Woodstock), who is also a practicing Hematology-Oncology physician of 30 years, and State Sen. Tony Hwang (R-Fairfield), ranking member of the Insurance and Real Estate Committee, today applauded the passage of legislation that helps patients to receive care when needed in part by removing certain administrative hurdles during the prior authorization process.
“We must always be seeking to make health care more affordable and accessible,” said Sen. Hwang, the former co-chair of the Public Health Committee. “This policy moves us toward that goal, and I am pleased it received widespread bipartisan support. It also has the backing of medical professionals from across our state. I thank our medical community for speaking out in favor of this commonsense legislation which will allow them to spend more of their time treating patients and less time on administrative duties. I also thank my colleague Sen. Gordon for his advocacy and in-depth knowledge of this topic, as well as Insurance and Real Estate Committee Co-chairs Sen. Jorge Cabrera and Rep. Kerry Wood as well as my fellow Ranking Member Cara Pavalock-D’Amato for helping to shepherd this bill through the legislative process.”
Senate Bill 6, approved by the Senate on Wednesday, creates a “one-and-done” provision for prescription medication where once a physician authorizes a certain treatment, then periodic re-authorizations of the medication are not necessary. This continuity can prevent lapses in ongoing care that patients need. It also provides both patients, physicians, and healthcare professionals with shortened, realistic timeframes in which health insurers shall provide notification of such authorizations for more prompt medical treatment.
Senator Gordon, a past president of the Connecticut State Medical Society, said, “Insurance authorization is not an abstract concept. It is a real world, everyday circumstance that affects the good people of Connecticut. I understand very well what’s involved in caring for people, helping their families and them make medical decisions, and get medical treatment. There’s ample evidence by physicians and health care professionals in Connecticut to show that this is a serious and pervasive problem.
“Physicians’ offices, hospitals and other health care facilities expend time, resources and money to manage the duplicative prior authorization process. Professionals spend dozens of hours per week on this administrative task. This is staff time and resources that should otherwise be dedicated to direct patient medical care. I am proud to have worked on and support Senate Bill 6 because it can improve the timeliness of people getting the care that they need, by tearing down administrative hurdles that hinder their care. As a doctor, it is about caring for people when they need medical care.”
A recent survey by the Connecticut State Medical Society found that:
  • 81 percent stated that prior authorizations cause delays for medical care.
  • 70 percent stated that at least nine hours a week is spent dealing with health insurer prior authorization process; 11 percent stated that 26 hours each week is spent in this regard.
  • 63 percent stated that at least 11 insurance prior authorization requests are submitted each week.
  • 84 percent stated that the negative impact of prior authorizations has been escalating over the past five years.
Senate Bill 6 includes other key provisions on:
  • “Step Therapy”: Conduct a legislative study on how patients may benefit from eliminating this common health insurer mandate, which begins a patient’s treatment with the least expensive medicines that may be less effective. If the medicines are not effective, they may move forward to better medicines. The measure eliminates this practice for serious mental health conditions including schizophrenia, chronic depression, and bipolar disorder.
  • Newborn Healthcare: Extend the timeframe in which parents may notify their health insurer of a birth from 61 to 121 days.