Brown urged to investigate insurance companies

By Kathy Woods | Jul 30, 2009

Jerry Brown (D)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Legal Newsline)-California Attorney General Jerry Brown is being urged by activist groups to investigate discrimination by health insurance companies.

Organizations Healthy African American Families, Familia Unida, and For Grace requested the investigation, claiming that some insurers are refusing to provide prescribed medication, opting for less expensive medication that the groups say often times does not work.

Some of these insures require that patients fail up to five medicines before they will allow them to have the medicine that was originally prescribed for them, the groups said in a statement.

California patients, mainly women and minorities or low in-come people, are left to try and live with the pain and deteriorating health because they are denied the new and more advanced medications, they said.

In March of 2009, 16 state attorneys general sent a letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services with concerns about plans for requiring patients to try medications several times first before actually filling the prescription the doctor had originally written for them.

In response, CMS tightened restrictions and adopted a policy that prevents health insurers from requiring patients to take more than two medications before the insurer will pay for the medication.

Healthy African American Families II, a nonprofit, community serving agency whose mission is to improve the health outcomes of the African American and Latino communities of Los Angeles County. Their partners include Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, UCLA, RAND, and more than 150 community-based organizations.

Familia Unida is the first bilingual, Multiple Sclerosis nonprofit organization in U.S. history. It is committed to offering innovative and comprehensive services that respect and value the population living with disabilities. Its resources have made it possible to access effective healthcare and educational opportunities.

For Grace is a nonprofit organization devoted to ensuring the ethical and equal treatment of all women in pain. Their main stated goal is to increase awareness of the discriminatory factor that women face worldwide in the assessment and treatment of their pain.

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