Senate passes Short bill aimed at better access to health-care benefits

The Senate voted 42-4 to approve a bill introduced by Sen. Shelly Short that would help patients have access to the health-care benefits for which they have already paid for in their health plans.

“This bill represents the culmination of nearly two years of work with insurance carriers, providers and patients,” said Short, R-Addy. “I cannot tell you how many patients and providers throughout our district have come forward to share their frustrations. Ultimately, giving patients that access to timely care allows them the best chance of recovery without extended opioid use or surgery.”

Short said her legislation, Senate Bill 6157, would allow people better access to health care by changing an insurance carrier’s initial prior-authorization process so patients can have six consecutive treatment visits, without prior authorization, with specialty-care providers that have been determined to be medically necessary.

During her Senate floor speech Monday in support of the bill, Short told fellow senators that her proposal would not expand health benefits.

“This bill is about patients having access to the health-care benefits they already paid for,” Short said. “This bill does not prevent the insurers’ use of prior authorization. In fact, many carriers in this state told me they already internally allow up to six visits. The unfortunate problem and the reason for this legislation is the lack of consistency in how they do that.

“One of my constituents had a shoulder injury, and she was told by both her primary care doctor and her surgeon that she should have intensive physical therapy and not surgery. And yet because of the internal carrier’s process, she was frustrated and did not get access to her visits in a timely manner that gave her the best chance of recovery,” Short added.

SB 6157 now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.