In early February, advocates gathered in Tallahassee and were provided a unique political experience. A week earlier, a Special Session was called by Governor DeSantis. Florida’s constitution allows Special Sessions to be called either by the Governor or a joint proclamation issued by the Senate President and House Speaker.
This special process ended up slightly changing plans for FSR’s advocates, but ultimately provided a political atmosphere not many attendees usually get to experience.
FSR hosted a record number of advocates representing a variety of districts across the state. While there are several legislative issues impacting the rheumatology community, advocates were specifically educated on two priority issues to discuss with their elected officials.
The first issue related to legislation that would ban the use of Accumulator Adjustment Programs (Senate Bill 46 and House Bill 1063) by ensuring any charity dollars, such as manufacturer co-pay cards, are applied towards the patients deductible or out-of-pocket maximum.
The second issue related to combating payer mandated “white bagging” (House Bill 203). This bill adds a set of protections so that an insurer or pharmacy benefit manager that covers a clinician-administered drug may not force a patient or provider to white bag a drug.
Given Governor DeSantis’ interest in the Florida legislature prioritizing filing legislation to reign in the predatory practices of Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs), FSR advocates also educated lawmakers about PBMs and asked for support on PBM reform legislation once introduced. Specifically, FSR advocates requested that language to ban accumulator adjustment program (SB 46 and HB 1063) and prevent specialty pharmacy mandates (HB 203) be considered for inclusion in such a bill.
The day concluded with FSR hosting an award’s reception for legislative officials who were supportive of issues impacting the rheumatology community. The legislators honored included Senator Tom Wright, Representative Chuck Clemons, Representative Mike Grant, and Representative Adam Botana.
FSR leadership is encouraging members to take part in this event next year. Travel reimbursement and lodging is provided on behalf of the society. More information will be provided during the annual meeting in Orlando.