Today's Law As Amended


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SB-524 Health care coverage: patient steering.(2021-2022)



As Amends the Law Today


SECTION 1.
 The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(a) When a health care service plan, health insurer, or pharmacy benefit manager requires a patient to use a specific pharmacy provider for services that otherwise could be provided by any pharmacy in the provider network, it unjustifiably limits patient choice and may put the patient’s health at risk.
(b) Evidence shows that limiting access to pharmacy providers is designed to eliminate competition and can result in higher costs for the patient and for the health care system as a whole. It can result in patients losing connection with trusted providers and being unable to get the advice and consultation they need.
(c) Therefore, it is necessary to limit the practice of “patient steering,” used by some health care service plans and health insurers, and their contracted pharmacy benefit managers, to those situations when it is used for established clinical or logistical reasons, and not for financial benefit to the plan or insurer, or their agents.

SEC. 2.

 Section 1367.44 is added to the Health and Safety Code, to read:

1367.44.
 (a) A health care service plan or the agent of a health care service plan shall not engage in patient steering.
(b) “Patient steering” means either of the following:
(1) Communicating to an enrollee, verbally, electronically, or in writing, that the enrollee is required to have a prescription dispensed at, or pharmacy services provided by, a particular pharmacy or pharmacies if there are other pharmacies in the network that have the ability to dispense the medication or provide the services.
(2) Offering or including in contract or policy designs for purchasers of health care service plan coverage provisions that limit enrollees’ access to only those pharmacy providers that are owned or operated by the health care service plan or plan’s agent, or are owned or operated by a corporate affiliate of the health care service plan or plan’s agent.
(c) “Patient steering” does not include directing an enrollee to a specific pharmacy for a specific prescription due to the need for special handling or clinical requirements that cannot be performed by other pharmacies in the provider network of the health care service plan or plan’s agent.
(d) This section does not prevent a health care service plan or the agent of a health care service plan from offering and communicating to enrollees financial incentives to use a particular pharmacy, including, but not limited to, reductions in copays or other financial incentives given to the enrollee when the prescription is dispensed.
(e) This section does not apply to a health care service plan that is part of a fully integrated delivery system in which enrollees primarily use pharmacies that are entirely owned and operated by the health care service plan, and the plan’s enrollees may use any pharmacy in the health care service plan’s network that has the ability to dispense the medication or provide the services.
(f) This section does not apply to a self-insured multiemployer Taft-Hartley plan or the agent of a self-insured multiemployer Taft-Hartley plan.

SEC. 3.

 Section 10123.66 is added to the Insurance Code, to read:

10123.66.
 (a) A health insurer or the agent of a health insurer shall not engage in patient steering.
(b) “Patient steering” means either of the following:
(1) Communicating to an insured, verbally, electronically, or in writing, that the insured is required to have a prescription dispensed at, or pharmacy services provided by, a particular pharmacy or pharmacies if there are other pharmacies in the network that have the ability to dispense the medication or provide the services.
(2) Offering or including in contract or policy designs for purchasers of health insurance coverage provisions that limit insureds’ access to only those pharmacy providers that are owned or operated by the health insurer or insurer’s agent, or owned or operated by a corporate affiliate of the health insurer or insurer’s agent.
(c) “Patient steering” does not include directing an insured to a specific pharmacy for a specific prescription due to the need for special handling or clinical requirements that cannot be performed by other pharmacies in the provider network of the health insurer or insurer’s agent.
(d) This section does not prevent a health insurer or the agent of a health insurer from offering and communicating to insureds financial incentives to use a particular pharmacy, including, but not limited to, reductions in copays or other financial incentives given to the insured when the prescription is dispensed.
(e) This section does not apply to a health insurer that uses as its provider network the network of its affiliated health care service plan that is part of a fully integrated delivery system in which insureds primarily use pharmacies that are entirely owned and operated by the health care service plan, and the plan’s insureds may use any pharmacy in the health care service plan’s network that has the ability to dispense the medication or provide the services.
(f) This section does not apply to a self-insured multiemployer Taft-Hartley plan or the agent of a self-insured multiemployer Taft-Hartley plan.
SEC. 4.
 No reimbursement is required by this act pursuant to Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution because the only costs that may be incurred by a local agency or school district will be incurred because this act creates a new crime or infraction, eliminates a crime or infraction, or changes the penalty for a crime or infraction, within the meaning of Section 17556 of the Government Code, or changes the definition of a crime within the meaning of Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution.