Departments of Human Services/Public Health
Visiting the website of your state or local health department can provide useful information and possible outlets for advocacy. You will find information about your rights as a patient, recent state and local regulations, as well as resources about various current issues. Many states even have an office for the healthcare advocate that can be useful for advocates like you.
After finding your local and state health department websites, advocates can decide the most effective way to engage with these agency officials. Whether this is through arranging a personal meeting, making a phone call, writing a letter, or commenting on rules or regulations, there are many ways to advocate for issues that are important to you and the PI community. Like legislators, state and local health officials look to advocates to educate them on important issues.
State Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee
Many states have a regulatory body that manages drug formularies within their Medicaid program called a Pharmacy and Therapeutics (P & T) Committee. A drug formulary is a list of treatments and medications that are covered by a prescription health plan or other public or private insurance plan. Immunoglobulin therapy, along with other existing or possible future treatments for PI, are a frequent topic in discussions surrounding drug formularies. P & T committees often conduct public meetings during which individuals can testify or supply verbal/written comments on issues of concern under the committee’s purview, including the inclusion or exclusion of particular medications and treatments from their health plan’s drug formulary. Additionally, many committees have members that represent consumer/patient interests, and these members are receptive to advocates who vocalize their views on an issue. Engaging with these committees can influence patient access to medications and therapies through Medicaid. To find out if your state has a P & T Committee, try searching your state health department’s website. For more information about your state’s P & T responsibilities as of July 2019 see the Kaiser Family Foundation state health facts on State Medicaid Drug Review Responsibilities published in April 2020.
State Health Insurance Commissioner
All 50 states have a State Insurance Commissioner, and these regulators are meant to advocate for the people within their state. These agencies oversee the insurance industry with the intention of protecting patients and consumers. Commissioners can play a large role in instituting healthcare reform, and are therefore a useful resource to advocates in the PI community. Advocating directly to your state’s Insurance Commissioner can be a very effective advocacy strategy for some issues. To find more resources and contact information regarding your state’s insurance commissioner, visit the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) membership list. The NAIC coordinates with state insurance commissioners to institute standards and consistent regulatory oversight across states.
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