Senators Tina Smith, Jerry Moran push to reduce cost of cancer treatments – Senator Tina Smith
WASHINGTON DC [6.15.23] Today, US Senators Tina Smith (D-MN) and Jerry Moran (R-KS) introduced bipartisan legislation to ensure cancer patients receiving oral medications are not hit by thousands of dollars in unaffordable out-of-pocket costs that health plans routinely cover for patients undergoing traditional IV chemotherapy treatments.
They Cancer Drug Equality Act responds to recent improvements in oral cancer drugs by preventing insurers from charging cancer patients higher co-payments for those drugs than for intravenously administered chemotherapy drugs. It will be about 2 million Americans
I am diagnosed with cancer this year. A study of patients prescribed oral cancer drugs found that one in eight patients had to pay a copay of $2,000 or more for their first prescription.
Advances in oral cancer drugs have made life better for cancer patients across the country, Senator Smith said. Oral medications are less intrusive than traditional IV treatments, can be taken at home, and have turned cancer into a manageable chronic disease for many. But while IV treatments are covered under a health plan, medical benefits with moderate to minimal copays, oral medications often have high and unaffordable copays. It can add up to thousands of dollars in patient costs each year and can cause many to delay or forgo the treatment needed to cure cancer. Our bill brings parity to these two types of treatments and reduces costs for those taking oral cancer medications.
As the number of orally administered cancer drugs increases every year, patients should be able to benefit immediately from these medical advances. Senator Moran said. This sensible legislation would encourage ERISA health insurance plans to stay abreast of the latest cancer treatments and expand access to orally administered cancer drugs for millions of individuals. Access to new treatments, therapies and cures will help save lives.
More than 40 states and the District of Columbia have enacted oral parity laws, which prevent health plans from creating different cost-sharing requirements for oral and IV cancer drugs. These laws have made a significant difference for cancer patients—for example, researchers found that the number of multiple myeloma patients initially charging $0 for oral medications nearly quintupled with the enactment of oral equality laws.
Senators Smith and Morans bipartisan Cancer Drug Equality Act would build on this statewide success:
- Extend oral equality protections to privately insured patients whose health care is federally regulated.
- Prevent insurers from covering oral and self-administered drugs at different cost-sharing rates than IV chemotherapy.
- Implement these requirements for health plans that already cover both oral and IV chemotherapy treatments.
Legislation is co-sponsored by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Angus King (I -ME), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Rick Scott (R-FL).
The bill is endorsed by Accessia Health, AIM at Melanoma, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Society of Clinical Oncology, American Society of Hematology, American Urological Association, Aplastic Anemia and MDS International Foundation, Association of American Cancer Institutes, Association of Community Cancer Centers, Association of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Nurses, CancerCare, Cancer and Careers, Cancer Support Community, Colorectal Cancer Alliance, Community Oncology Alliance, Facing Our Enhanced Cancer Risk (FORCE), Fight Colorectal Cancer, GO2 Foundation for Lung Cancer, Hematology /Oncology Pharmacy Association, International Myeloma Foundation, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, LUNGevity, Lymphoma Research Foundation, Medical College of Wisconsin, METAvivor, National Brain Tumor Society, National Comprehensive Cancer Network, National Patient Advocate Foundation, Oncology Nursing Society, Ovarian Cancer Research Alliance, PAN Foundation, Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, Susan G. Komen, The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Institute, WVU Medicine, ZERO Prostate Cancer.
We are thrilled that Senators Smith and Senators Moran have reintroduced this important legislation that will help millions of cancer patients access the care they need by ensuring fair coverage for treatment, said Danielle Doheny, public policy and advocacy director for the International Myeloma Foundation, which chairs the Coalition to Improve Access to Cancer Care. They made great strides in the Senate last Congress and we look forward to continuing that momentum. Their commitment to improving access to needed care and affordability for patients is commendable, and we appreciate their tireless work in supporting the Cancer Drug Parity Act.
You can read more about the legislation here.
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