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Ohio Lawmaker Makes Final Push For Step Therapy

Rep. Scott Lipps (R-Franklin, center) talks about his experience with step therapy as Rep. Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood, far left), Sen. Peggy Lehner (R-Kettering, second from left) and Sen. Charleta Tavares (D-Columbus, far right) look on.

A bipartisan bill dealing with how insurance companies deny certain treatments and drugs until other options are tried first is getting a final push in this lame duck session. And there’s a lawmaker who’s joining in on this effort – but as a patient.

It’s called “step therapy” – where insurers deny a drug or treatment until a different, sometimes cheaper option is tried first. Republican Rep. Scott Lipps of Franklin in southwest Ohio came face to face with it after he fell seriously ill and was denied the drug his specialist had prescribed in favor of a medication he says did nothing but cost him recovery time.

“I learned this new term ‘step therapy’ in a very negative personal matter,” Lipps said. “And when I learned I had colleagues working on this issue, I was standing behind them cheering them on.”

Lawmakers say they want to ensure there’s a clinical reason for step therapy, and that it’s not just to save money. Health plans have opposed this bill, saying step therapy ensures safer, more cost-effective drugs are used first.

Karen is a lifelong Ohioan who has served as news director at WCBE-FM, assignment editor/overnight anchor at WBNS-TV, and afternoon drive anchor/assignment editor in WTAM-AM in Cleveland. In addition to her daily reporting for Ohio’s public radio stations, she’s reported for NPR, the BBC, ABC Radio News and other news outlets. She hosts and produces the Statehouse News Bureau’s weekly TV show “The State of Ohio”, which airs on PBS stations statewide. She’s also a frequent guest on WOSU TV’s “Columbus on the Record”, a regular panelist on “The Sound of Ideas” on ideastream in Cleveland, appeared on the inaugural edition of “Face the State” on WBNS-TV and occasionally reports for “PBS Newshour”. She’s often called to moderate debates, including the Columbus Metropolitan Club’s Issue 3/legal marijuana debate and its pre-primary mayoral debate, and the City Club of Cleveland’s US Senate debate in 2012.