Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Keystone First Denial - Fighting Back Part 1

Grace uses Precision Xtra Blood Ketone strips to check her ketones when her blood sugar is over 250-300 mg/dL. As a 17 year old Type 1 diabetic, with hormones at play 99% of the time, and all that comes with that, there are days when she hits that high once or twice a day. She checks her ketones with the blood ketone strips. They are accurate and guide her decisions for her care and next steps. She keeps a Precision blood ketone meter at home and one in school. She's been using the blood ketone strips since 2013.

Keystone First, her health insurance provider, has denied her prescription from her pediatric endocrinologist for the blood ketone strips. The reason for their denial is:

You read that right. The drug's manufacturer doesn't participate in some drug rebate program, so they will not cover it. There is no medical reason they list. There is no 'not medically necessary' mentioned. There is NO MEDICAL REASON at all. It's sort of shocking, no?! Here is the actual denial letter:

Well, folks, this is not my first rodeo. You see, Keystone First denied her these Precision Xtra blood ketone test strips in March 2016 too. Then they denied as they were 'non-formulary.' I filed a grievance against Keystone First in March 2016 because of that denial. They actually went ahead with a First Level Grievance hearing phone call with me on March 28, 2016. 

I had to speak to a Keystone First doctor of their choosing, and defend why my daughter needed blood ketone strips. This doctor was NOT an endocrinologist. How do I know? I asked the doctor directly. The doctor was lost on words like 'diabeticketoacidosis (DKA)' and I knew it. During the grievance hearing phone call, Keystone First said they were not necessarily stating she needed to use urine ketone test strips, but they were denying the blood ketone test strips.

I lost it then. I launched into the folly that is urine ketone testing in 2016. 

'What color do you think it is - light purple, medium purple? No, maybe it's light brown. Do you think I'm in danger? Let me urinate again on a strip in a dirty bathroom. Darn, dropped it in the potty. No, it's not a pregnancy test strip." 

All those thoughts came out of me at once. It is ludicrous and borders on medical malpractice to suggest that Type 1 diabetics go backwards in their care. I said so. 

The next day in 2016, Keystone First overturned their denial. 

They approved Precision Xtra blood ketone strips for her with a prior authorization request in 2017 and in 2018. They did not deny the strips. They did not request a hearing with me. They approved them for the two years since. Now, I get a denial letter from the once again. This time, the reason is not even medical, it's because of some rebate program.  

I have filed a grievance against Keystone First once again. In my grievance, I included all of the 2016 grievance paperwork, including my notes from the phone call, my original reasons for grieving the denial and the letter from Keystone First overturning their decision. If they decide they want to go down this road again, I will go down this road again. And I guarantee you, my daughter will not be turning to urine ketone strips and will be approved for Precision Xtra blood ketone test strips.

I have also contacted the Pennsylvania Health Law Project which helps people who are on Medicaid with denials and not getting the treatment, medications and help that they need. 

Game on.


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