Medical leaders target patient care hassles - - Jackson, MS

Medical leaders target patient care hassles

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JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

For Doctor Tom Joiner, a patient's care is only as good as their prescribed treatment. That's why he's supporting a piece of legislation to get rid of what he calls a hassle for both physicians and patients.

"It's so important from a patient care standpoint," said Joiner.

A bill making its way through the legislature would eliminate the more than 300 pre-authorization forms physicians must filter through before a patient can start taking a prescribed medication. In some cases authorization from insurance companies can even take five to ten days for approval.

"That presents a major problem in most medications. You can't wait a week for the patient to start their therapy," said Joiner. "That's dangerous."

The bill would create one universal form to be used and require insurance companies to make a decision within two days. If no decision is made within 48 hours, it would become an automatic approval.

"Prior authorization is very frustrating because it's a process where a decision that's made by your physician is questioned," said Angela Ladner, executive director of the Mississippi Psychiatric Association.

Ladner says the amount of paperwork and approval periods too often get in the way of patient care especially in dealing with mental health.

"We have to make sure that patients have access to their medications in the shortest amount of time possible and that's what this legislation would do," said Ladner.

Not every prescribed drug requires prior authorization, but for the hundreds that do, it's enough for the medical community to want to make a slight change to the state's managed healthcare system. Several other states have already moved to the system, others are looking into it. Ladner says the goal is not to get rid of oversight but to make the process more patient friendly.

"It's more about us saying we don't need to have anything that is a barrier to access for any patient in Mississippi," said Ladner.

"It only makes sense. This needs to happen," said Joiner.

The legislation passed the house unanimously and now sits in a senate committee for consideration. With the support of the full house medical leaders hope that's a sign of things to come in the senate.

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