Rep. Gary Mohr. (IA Legislature photo)

The Iowa House has unanimously voted to set new rules to prevent prescription drug switches that aren’t done for medical reasons.

This would not apply to substituting a less expensive generic drug for a brand name medication with the same active ingredients.

Representative Gary Mohr of Bettendorf said it’s about insurance plans denying coverage or requiring a higher co-payment in the middle of a health plan’s year, “increasing the cost of the drug on the covered person when the individual is stable on the drug and their health care provider continues to prescribe that same drug.”

Mohr said insurers and patient advocates have been working on the legislation for the past six years, and came up with a compromise. Representative Megan Srinivas of Des Moines said the bill would protect patients.

“As a physician I see the implications of having medical switches that are not necessary or even good for my patients every single day,” Srinivas said. “This bill fixes that.”

As other states have debated similiar moves, insurance companies have argued the switches let them offer patients alternatives when pharmaceutical companies raise the price of a drug in the middle of an insurance plan’s year. Medicare, the government health plan for seniors, prohibits midyear changes unless the federal agency that oversees the program authorizes it.

Radio Iowa