Wisconsin legislators propose bill to end white-bagging

'White-bagging' can make it harder, more expensive for a patient to obtain life-saving medication

· Oct 25, 2021 Tweet

Hayley Cleghorn/The Badger Herald

A bipartisan group of Wisconsin state legislators unveiled Koreen’s Law — legislation that will ban the practice of “white-bagging” by insurance agencies and make it easier for patients to get access to life-saving drugs.

The bill is named after Eau Claire resident Koreen Holmes, who was eight months pregnant and diagnosed with breast cancer when her insurance agency said they would only cover her medication if it came from their specialty pharmacies, according to WI Proud.

White-bagging is when a patient receives a specialized drug treatment therapy designed by a pharmacy, usually a specialty one. Those drugs are transported to and administered in a health care setting.

This practice is most common in oncology and cancer treatment and can be costly for the patient. According to The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, the practice can be beneficial because pharmacists and prescribers can work together to create a treatment plan tailored to a person’s needs. But, treatments like these are often expensive and require additional supervision and are difficult to regulate.

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Additionally, third-party payers, like insurance companies, are often the ones to set the terms for these agreements and are increasingly mandating them according to the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy.

According to WEAU news, those in favor of the law say white-bagging can lead to unsafe and delayed transfers that do not allow hospitals to verify that these drugs have been moved in a way that follows manufacturer guidelines.

Co-author of the bill and State Rep. Tony Kurtz, R-Wonewoc, said in a statement that patients should always be put first when it comes to their healthcare needs.

“There is no reason a person should show up for life-saving treatments at a hospital, and the medicine isn’t there,” Kurtz said. “This bill puts an end to that.”

The bill offers a rare moment of bipartisan cooperation and democratic co-author of the bill Rep. Evan Goyke, D-Milwaukee, said he is “optimistic” that the legislation will pass.

Goyke, however, said he anticipates that the insurance industry will ultimately oppose the bill.

Other states, such as Louisiana, have already banned the practice of white-bagging.

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Goyke said these types of prohibitions and laws will become more mainstream, as the pandemic has brought attention to the issue of white-bagging. Still, it is a niche policy that does not impact the majority of Wisconsinites.

“It’s not something that many people experience unless they are a family member of someone who is relying on these drugs or these injections,” Goyke said. “I think our first hurdle will be educating people about the problem and then educating them about the solution.”


This article was published Oct 25, 2021 at 8:40 pm and last updated Oct 26, 2021 at 12:39 am


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