Schuitmaker fights to cut bureaucracy, improve efficiency with health care reform bill

LANSING—State Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker introduced legislation this week to improve efficiencies at the doctor’s office by streamlining the process used by Michigan physicians to verify that a patient’s health care insurance provider covers prescription drugs.

Senate Bills 429 and 430 call on Michigan’s insurance commissioner to create a single universal prior authorization form and bring uniformity in the authorization process. This will replace more than 1,000 pages of paperwork physicians are currently forced to sort through for the same simple task.

“Michigan families deserve the absolute best possible health care, but unnecessary red tape and bureaucracy often stand in the way,” said Schuitmaker, R-Lawton. “My legislation lets doctors and their staffs focus on saving lives and improving their patients’ health instead of dealing with mountains of redundant paperwork.”

While most prior authorization forms are very similar, more than 150 different insurance providers operating in Michigan each use their own unique forms, creating significant paperwork and bureaucratic red tape. This delays the delivery of quality health care and limits the time physicians and their staffs can spend directly with patients, addressing their health care needs.

Kalamazoo area physician and Michigan State Medical Society member Stephen Dallas, M.D. agrees with Schuitmaker.

“Michigan physicians prefer to be in the exam rooms and operating suites working on their patients’ behalf. We prefer to see our staff delivering care directly to patients and not confined to desks shuffling paper,” said Dallas. “A universal prior authorization form would reduce the amount of time spent filling out forms. It would streamline the referral process and it would enhance efficiency.”

Health care insurance providers use prior authorization forms to verify that drugs being prescribed by a physician are covered by a patient’s health care plan for the symptoms or ailment being treated. SB 429 and 430 maintain an insurance company’s right to choose which drugs it covers under each plan but calls on the insurance commissioner to create a universal form each must accept from physicians seeking prior authorization.

Michigan’s largest physician and patient advocacy organizations, representing tens of thousands of Michigan doctors, their staffs and their patients this year have formally called for the creation of a universal prior authorization form to improve patient access to care, including the Michigan State Medical Society; the Michigan Osteopathic Association; the Michigan Academy of Family Physicians; and the Michigan Health and Hospital Association.