Martinez signs bill to curb ‘step therapy,’ vetoes raises for elected offices
A bill designed to rein in “step therapy,” the insurance company practice of requiring patients to try a less expensive medication before using a costlier option, will become law in New Mexico.
Gov. Susana Martinez on Wednesday signed Senate Bill 11, sponsored by Sens. Liz Stefanics, D-Cerrillos, and Gay Kernan, R-Hobbs, one of about two dozen bills passed during the 2018 legislative session to which she added her signature.
In addition to the legislation she signed, Martinez also made good on her promise to veto a bill that would have given pay raises to a number of elected state officials. Senate Bill 176, sponsored by Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, would have increased by 10 percent the pay of the next governor, attorney general, secretary of state, state treasurer, state auditor, land commissioner, public regulation commissioners and lieutenant governor.
Martinez balked, referring in a news release to a budget surplus she said was made possible by “a relentless commitment to responsible stewardship of taxpayer dollars. … I will not waste a dime of it on doling out taxpayer dollars on pay raises for politicians.”
The bipartisan step therapy bill passed without opposition in the Senate or House.
Insurance companies say step therapy, or “fail first treatment,” is a necessary way to slow down spiraling drug costs and to curb the influence of drug manufacturers that market pharmaceuticals directly to patients and doctors.
But critics contend the practice can cause patients in some cases to suffer with inadequate medications and that it interferes with what doctors consider to be the best care for their patients. Step therapy puts money before medicine, critics say.
Referring to patients, Stefanics told The New Mexican last week, “To take them backwards might take them from walking to a wheelchair.”
Martinez also signed SB 19, sponsored by Sen. Jim White, R-Albuquerque, which would overhaul New Mexico’s guardianship and conservator system for the elderly and disabled. The legislation mandates open court records, more oversight and auditing.