House passes medications legislation

A bill amending refill procedures for certain medications passed unanimously out of the Oklahoma House of Representatives with a vote of 92 to 0.

House Bill 1819 by state Rep. Carl Newton, an optometrist, prohibits an insurance company from denying refill requests for eye drops after using 70 percent of the prescription.

“This is a joint effort of Oklahoma Academy of Ophthalmology and the Oklahoma Association of Optometric Physicians to better the lives of our patients,” said Newton, R-Cherokee. “The majority of prescription eye drops are for the treatment of glaucoma. This condition largely affects older patients which often have decreased ocular sensitivity and have a tough time feeling the drops hit their eye.”

The legislation also prohibits a health benefit plan that covers prescription eye drops from denying coverage for a refill prescription when the prescription indicates that more is needed, the refill does not exceed the additional amount needed, and the prescription is covered.

“Optometrists and ophthalmologists across the state have many patients who experience this problem of not being able to get refills on eye medications because they have not met their prescription time period. We run into issues when the insurance company denies the request, so this measure will ensure patients have proper access to the eye drops they need,” Newton said.

HB1819 now proceeds to the Senate for consideration, where state Sen. Stephanie Bice, R-Oklahoma City, is the author.