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Medicare Part B Drug Prior Authorization Policy

InterQual® Criteria for Prior Authorization

When Blue Medicare receives a request for authorization or prior approval for a Part B medication, our utilization review pharmacists & Medical Directors use Change Healthcare’s InterQual® criteria to determine if the services are clinically indicated. If the criteria are met, the case is approved; if the criteria are not met, the case is reviewed by a physician. InterQual criteria are clinically based on best practice, clinical data and medical literature. They are updated continually and released annually. In addition to the Interqual criteria, certain medications may require a step therapy (use of preferred drugs) prior to coverage of requested medications. Please see below for additional information.

Drug List requiring Prior Authorization [pdf]

Medicare Part B Step Therapy Program

Effective Date: January 1, 2023

This Part B Step therapy drug policy is applicable to all Medicare Advantage Plans offered by Arkansas Blue Cross Blue Shield (H3554, H6518, H9699) except for H4213 (PFFS).

This policy supplements the InterQual® criteria for Medicare Pharmacy that applies to the Medicare Advantage Plans administered by Arkansas Blue Cross Blue Shield for the purpose of determining coverage under Medicare Part B medical benefits. This step therapy policy implements a prior authorization requirement for medical benefit injectables only, such as buy & bill.

The following products require Step Therapy in addition to the Interqual criteria:

Intravitreal Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) Inhibitors

Preferred DrugNon-Preferred DrugsNon-Preferred Drugs Step Therapy Criteria
Compounded AvastinBeovu, Byooviz, Eylea, Lucentis, Susvimo, VabysmoBeovu, Byooviz, Eylea, Lucentis, Susvimo, or Vabysmo may be covered after an adequate trial/failure (at least 3 doses resulting in minimal clinical response to compounded Avastin).

Bisphosphonate Drug Therapy

Preferred DrugNon-Preferred DrugsNon-Preferred Drugs Step Therapy Criteria
Oral bisphosphonatesProlia, ReclastNon-Preferred drugs may be covered after an adequate trial/failure or documented intolerance resulting in minimal clinical response to oral bisphosphonate therapy.


  1. Medicare Advantage and Part D Drug Pricing [pdf]
  2. Modernizing Part D and Medicare Advantage to lower drug prices and reduce out-of-pocket expenses
  3. For CMS Memorandum titled Prior Authorization and Step Therapy for Part B Drugs in Medicare Advantage, dated August 7, 2018; see MA Step Therapy HPMS Memo [pdf]
  4. Avery RL, Pieramici DJ, Rabena MD, Castellarin AA, Nasir MA, Giust MJ. Intravitreal bevacizumab (Avastin) for neovascular age-related macular degeneration. Ophthalmology. 2006;113(3):363-372. doi: 10.1016/j.ophtha.2005.11.019.
  5. Age-Related Macular Degeneration Preferred Practice Pattern. American Academy of Ophthalmology. Sept. 2019.
  6. Bakri SJ, Thorne JE, Ho AC, et al. Safety and efficacy of anti-vascular endothelial growth factor therapies for neovascular age-related macular degeneration: a report by the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Ophthalmology. 2019;126(1):55-63. doi: 10.1016/j.ophtha.2018.07.028.