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Gov. Tony Evers signs two bills into law Tuesday in front of Hometown Pharmacy in Janesville.

Measures focus on medical treatments

JANESVILLE

Gov. Tony Evers visited Janesville on Tuesday to sign into law two bills that allow patients to bypass step therapy and more easily access in-home medication.

Flanked by physicians and patients outside Hometown Pharmacy, Evers signed Senate Bill 26 and Senate Bill 38, which the Legislature passed this year. Evers called the bills “incredibly important” and said they will make health care more affordable and accessible.

SB 26, known as Act 12, allows patients to avoid the process known as step therapy, where insurance companies sometimes force patients to try cheaper treatment options before more expensive ones.

Rep. Debra Kolste, D-Janesville, said insurers sometimes make a patient fail first on a drug if a new pharmaceutical is introduced on the market. SB 26 allows patients to bypass that process, Kolste said.

“This bill places some of the control back into the hands of health care providers and patients to decide the best drug treatment … for their medical condition,” Evers said Tuesday. “SB 26 increases protections for Wisconsinites while still allowing insurers to utilize step therapy protocols.”

Kolste, who stood by Evers as he signed the bills, authored SB 38. She said the bill allows in-home dialysis patients to get medication directly from pharmaceutical manufacturers rather than through a pharmacist, which has been the law.

“It’s just a very common sense bill,” Kolste said.

Kolste said Evers’ decision to sign the bills in Janesville is commemorative of her work on crafting legislation to make health care more accessible in the state.

“He (Evers) realizes how hard I’ve worked on getting accessible health care,” Kolste said. “It’s what I do.”

Tuesday’s bill signing comes after Evers signed the partially vetoed 2019-21 state budget last week. Missing from the budget was Evers’ proposal to expand Medicaid to the full amount allowed under the Affordable Care Act.

Evers has said expanding Medicaid would have saved the state about $324 million while leveraging about $1.6 billion in new federal funding.

When asked Tuesday about the next steps for plans to expand Medicaid, Evers said he is baffled by Republicans’ opposition to accepting more federal dollars and said he will continue to discuss the issue.

“We’ll do everything in my power as governor to make sure we’ve been able to access as much flexibility and resources from the federal government we can, and if I can do that through executive orders, I’ll be glad to do it,” Evers said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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