Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

‘Unintended Consequences’

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

‘Unintended Consequences’

Article excerpt

Dantia MacDonald emerged from her seven-year hiatus from reality in shock with the discovery that everything she believed was wrong.

The Fulbright scholar and Stanford University graduate suffers from anosognosia, a symptom of severe mental illness that derailed her life at the age of 32. She recovered from delusions in 2015 after finding the right medication.

“When I’m sick, I really don’t believe I’m sick,” MacDonald said. “I believe my delusions. I believe I’m running the CIA. I believe cameras are watching me. I believe everyone’s a spy, and there’s hidden meaning to television shows and newspapers.”

She testified Monday in support of Senate Bill 93, which establishes protocol for challenging a health insurance provider’s step therapy policy. Under step therapy, patients are forced to try less expensive treatments before working their way up to more costly drugs prescribed by their doctor.

The proposed legislation gives patients a path to request an exception and appeal a denial. The insurance provider would have to respond to a request within 72 hours, or 24 hours in emergency cases.

MacDonald joined advocates for patients of other severe illness, such as cancer and multiple sclerosis, in asking lawmakers on the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee to pass the bill. They refer to step therapy as a “fail first” approach.

MacDonald said she wants to get married again, but that would mean moving from her current Medicaid provider to a plan through her husband’s employer. That insurance would require her to start over with medication she fears would launch her back into a lengthy delusional state.

Similarly, she recently received a doctor’s clearance to seek a full-time job but worries any employer’s coverage plan will present the same hurdle.

“The unintended consequences of this is I can’t get married, and I can’t get off disability, and I can’t work,” MacDonald said. …

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