The Lymphoma Research Foundation (LRF) – the nation’s largest nonprofit organization devoted exclusively to funding innovative lymphoma research and serving the lymphoma community through a comprehensive series of education programs, outreach initiatives and patient services – today announced its support of the Cancer Drug Coverage Parity Act, S. 1566/ H.R. 2739. The bipartisan legislation was introduced in the U.S. Senate last week by Senators Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Al Franken (D-MN) and in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congressmen Leonard Lance (R-NJ) and Brian Higgins (D-NY). This bill is a critical step toward improving access to anticancer treatments by requiring insurance coverage of patient administered and physician-administered anticancer drugs at the same cost to patients.
To date, insurance coverage policies for these drugs have not kept up with scientific advancement. Patients who rely on self-injectables or oral agents often find themselves spending tens of thousands of dollars a year out of pocket simply because they receive the drugs from a pharmacy rather than in a doctor’s office.
“We applaud Senators Kirk and Franken and Congressmen Lance and Higgins for their leadership and for introducing this important legislation,” said Meghan Gutierrez, LRF Chief Executive Officer. “There are an increasing number of new treatments for lymphoma that are oral agents, and access to these medications is critical for patients.”
Insurance coverage has not kept pace with innovation and the growing trend toward orally administered cancer medication; as a result, many patients are exposed to unmanageable cost sharing requirements in order to access oral cancer therapies. The Cancer Drug Coverage Parity Act requires that any health plan that provides coverage for cancer chemotherapy treatment provide coverage for orally administered anticancer medication at a cost no less favorable than the cost of an intravenous or injected cancer treatment.
The Cancer Drug Coverage Parity Act will dramatically improve the lives of cancer patients. Patients who previously could not afford these treatments will be able to access these potentially curative therapies. It will also make cancer treatments more practical for patients living in rural and underserved areas by reducing the need to drive long distances for a nurse or doctor to administer treatment.
To date, 39 states and the District of Columbia have passed similar laws to increase access to these life-saving drugs. To expand this to all cancer patients in the country, a federal law that sets a standard across all states is needed so that all cancer patients can access both physician and patient administered chemotherapy. To learn more about the Cancer Drug Coverage Parity Act, visit www.lymphoma.org/advocacy.