During this past year we’ve heard from patient groups about how the COVID-19 pandemic has upended the healthcare landscape for patients in the U.S. We’ve learned about the struggles patients have had in accessing their medicines, securing doctors’ appointments and affording the treatments they need. We’ve also learned about the issues our patient advocacy partners themselves are facing as organizations large and small deal with the economic fallout of the pandemic.
These are trying times, but there is reason to be hopeful. And as I think about the future, one thing is clear: Our collaboration with advocacy partners is more important than ever as we look at the issues facing patients on the horizon.
At Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS), we are honored to partner with patients and advocacy organizations to drive public policy efforts that improve insurance benefit design, enhance access and lower out-of-pocket costs for patients. With leadership from the patient advocacy community, we have collectively accomplished real policy results for patients, even during a pandemic:
- This past year, we collaborated to level the playing field for patients subjected to a utilization management practice called step therapy. Thanks to the joint efforts of our partners, reform was enacted in Louisiana, North Carolina and South Dakota. The result? More than half of the U.S. states now have guardrails on the books to protect patients, and we’re just getting started. As we look to 2021, we are already laying the groundwork with many of you to address states where patients have no recourse against the use of step therapy protocols, in addition to promoting a federal bill that would afford patients on federally regulated insurance plan the same protections.
- Elsewhere, we’ve partnered with a number of organizations to ensure the Medicare program provides access to innovative cancer medicines like CAR T cell therapy for seniors who need it most, regardless of where they live. Medicines like CAR T cell therapy represent next-generation, personalized medicines, and the recent positive moves taken by policymakers and regulators demonstrate the important impact patient and manufacturer voices have in these discussions. We are grateful for the partnership on this effort and for the hope that these next-generation medicines bring to patients.
Understanding that affordability for out of pocket expenses continues to be top of mind for patients, we are actively examining ways to address this through policymaking. We expect to partner with many of you on efforts at the state level this year to address these concerns. At the same time, Bristol Myers Squibb will continue to resource its robust patient assistance programs to help eligible patients in need. In fact, for U.S. patients, we announced expanded efforts to those facing financial hardship from COVID-19 earlier this year. Our patient assistance programs and public policy efforts are two ways we are committed to addressing out-of-pocket affordability head on.
As we think about the future, I encourage you to continue to bring the concerns of your patients to our team. We are committed to collectively shaping the environment side by side so patients can access and afford the medicines they need. The BIO Health and Advocacy Summit provides an excellent opportunity to connect with stakeholders to have these discussions. Bristol Myers Squibb is proud to sponsor this year’s summit and we look forward to our continued partnership.
Vice President, U.S. Policy and Government Affairs
Greg Chesmore is the Vice President of U.S. Policy and Government Affairs at Bristol Myers Squibb. Committed to a patient-centric approach, Greg has spent more than 20 years shaping the federal and state public policy environment to ensure patients have access to innovative, life-changing therapies.