Lawmakers introduce Cancer Drug Coverage Parity Act
Lawmakers today introduced legislation that would require private health insurance plans with IV chemotherapy benefits to provide equal coverage for chemotherapeutic agents that can be administered orally or which are self-injectable.
The legislation, known as the Cancer Drug Coverage Parity Act, is supported by the American Society for Hematology (ASH) and is seen as a first step toward reducing the financial burden for patients in need of cancer treatment.
“[We] applaud this step toward greatly reducing the financial burden that patients with blood and other cancers currently face in order to take their life-saving therapies,” ASH president David A. Williams, MD, said in a press release.
Research has indicated the newer forms of chemotherapeutic agents that can be self-administered by patients or ingested orally are effective and often have a lower risk for adverse events than traditional IV chemotherapy, and, thus, these new agents are quickly becoming a standard of care for many cancers, according to the ASH statement.
Currently, insurance coverage is different for these drugs compared with the more traditional forms of chemotherapy, rusting in higher copays. Due to the increasing cost of anti-cancer drugs, patients may be forced to choose between their physical health and their financial health, which can influence outcomes.
“While the Cancer Drug Coverage Parity Act will not solve the problem of high drug prices, it will help remove the high cost of burden on patients,” Williams said. “ASH supports anti-cancer drug parity legislation and will continue to work with Congress to identify supporters of this legislation in the House and in the Senate.”
The bi-partisan legislation was introduced by Rep. Leonard Lance (R-NJ) and Rep. Brian Higgins (D-NY) in the House and Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) and Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) in the senate.