AARDA Joins with Leading Health Care Organizations to Announce Expansion of “Let MI Doctors Decide”

Groups fighting diseases from asthma to hemophilia form a new task force to put treatment decisions into the hands of patients and doctors

DETROIT--()--Leading health care organizations focused on a broad spectrum of medical conditions are joining a new task force in support of Let MI Doctors Decide, an initiative aimed at empowering patients and doctors as they navigate the health insurance practice known as “step therapy.” The American Behcet’s Disease Association; Asthma & Allergy Foundation of America, Michigan Chapter; Hemophilia Foundation of Michigan; Michigan Rheumatism Society; and the Scleroderma Foundation, Michigan Chapter, have teamed up with the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA) in its efforts to protect against this practice that all too often results in seriously ill patients being denied access to the medicines that doctors have prescribed.

“Patients and their treating physicians should decide which treatment(s) is the best for a particular patient. Patients should not have access denied, delayed, or disrupted to a better treatment option based on the use of preferred drugs usually selected for financial reasons.”

Under step therapy requirements, many insurance companies mandate that patients try several drugs before covering the cost of doctor-recommended medicines. Let MI Doctors Decide, launched by AARDA in October 2017, provides patients and doctors with needed tools and resources as they work to access the right medicine at the right time. The formation of this new task force will help bring expanded awareness and resources focused on step therapy to a greater number of patients and doctors.

“Those suffering from autoimmune disease are not alone in struggling with the negative impacts of step therapy,” said Virginia Ladd, AARDA President and Executive Director. “This harmful practice poses serious risks for patients suffering from a variety of medical conditions. The new task force represents a major step forward as we work to ensure that insurance companies are held accountable for how they choose to give patients access to needed medicines.”

A poll conducted by Lake Research Partners in September 2017 showed that approximately seven out of 10 Michigan consumers have an unfavorable view of step therapy, and that 95 percent of respondents believe a doctor — not an insurance company — should have the final say in how to treat a patient.

Through its online platform, Let MI Doctors Decide offers resources such as a patient guide with tips on working with doctors and insurance companies, information about appealing health insurance company decisions, and stories from doctors and patients on their experiences with step therapy. Together, members of the new Let MI Doctors Decide task force will help expand these resources, with new items including explanatory videos and a scorecard assessing insurers’ step therapy practices.

“No matter their medical condition, seriously ill patients need access to the right medicines as prescribed by their doctors. We look forward to working with our new task force partners and health insurers across Michigan to empower patients and physicians to make the right treatment decisions for their individual needs,” said Ladd.

About Let MI Doctors Decide

Let MI Doctors Decide is an initiative of the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA) dedicated to helping patients who have been forced to go through step therapy by their insurance companies. Visit www.letmidoctorsdecide.org to learn more.

About AARDA

Founded in 1991, AARDA is the only national nonprofit organization focused on addressing the problem of the autoimmune disease category, the major cause of over 100 serious chronic diseases. Through collaborative efforts in the areas of education, public awareness, research, and patient services, AARDA is dedicated to the eradication of autoimmune diseases and works to alleviate both the suffering and socioeconomic impact of autoimmunity nationwide. To learn more, visit aarda.org.

TASK FORCE MEMBER STATEMENTS

“Patients who suffer from rare diseases such as Behcet’s already face many obstacles to treatment. The practice of step therapy creates yet another barrier to alleviating pain and suffering – and it’s one that could be avoided. That’s why we’re joining the Let MI Doctors Decide task force to help raise awareness and empower patients who are dealing with this harmful and unnecessary practice.”

- American Behcet’s Disease Association

“HFM is excited to join AARDA in their efforts to protect patient access to life-saving medication. We hope to increase awareness and understanding of step therapy practices and to ultimately reduce barriers to care.”

- Hemophilia Foundation of Michigan

“Patients and their treating physicians should decide which treatment(s) is the best for a particular patient. Patients should not have access denied, delayed, or disrupted to a better treatment option based on the use of preferred drugs usually selected for financial reasons."

- Michigan Rheumatism Society

“Raising awareness of step therapy is critical for patients with scleroderma and other diseases that are difficult to diagnose. For these patients, one of the keys to effective treatment is the ability to work together with their doctor to find the right medication for their unique symptoms, and step therapy interferes with that process. We look forward to working on the Let MI Doctors Decide task force to help arm these patients with the resources to navigate step therapy and get the treatment they need.”

- Scleroderma Foundation, Michigan Chapter

Contacts

American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association
Laura Simpson, 586-879-5670
LSimpson@aarda.org