Viewpoint: Streamlining insurance law long overdue

"In New Mexico, seven insurers currently account for a total of 123 prior authorization forms."

— Barry Bitzer, former Deputy Secretary, N.M. Human Services Department

In the year 2013 it is an exercise in wasted time, money and health to make patients, physicians, pharmacists and insurers attempt to reconcile the many permutations a prior authorization for coverage of a medication might take.

And it is an exercise easily ended. Senate Bill 296, sponsored by Senate President Pro Tempore Mary Kay Papen, D-Las Cruces, revises several sections of state law to streamline the prior authorization process into one form and three business days.

One of the easiest ways to ensure patient compliance with medications — as well as to ferret out fraud, abuse and waste in a system that threatens to bankrupt the nation — is uniformity in procedures.

SB 296 is an important step toward that, and it has passed the Senate unanimously, 38-0. It still must clear the House.

According to the fiscal impact report accompanying the bill, the consequences of not enacting it include physician offices continuing to have to identify and use the appropriate prior-authorization form for each specific member, as well as "delays in filling prescriptions will continue."

Neither is a medically or fiscally smart use of time. The House should ensure this bill is sent to the governor for her signature.

— Albuquerque Journal

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