Bipartisan Cancer Parity Drug Legislation Introduced in U.S. Congress

May 17, 2017 by Alec Stone MA, MPA, Former ONS Director of Government Affairs and Advocacy
Alec Stone
Alec Stone MA, MPA, ONS Public Affairs Director

Two members of the House of Representatives have put political party differences aside and introduced bipartisan legislation that requires health insurers to cover traditional chemotherapy, along with oral medications ( associated with cancer treatment. U.S. Representatives Leonard Lance (R-NJ) and Brian Higgins (D-NY) have proposed the Cancer Drug Parity Act (H.R. 1409). The intent of the bill is to ensure appropriate oncologic treatments are affordable and covered for patients with cancer.

Many patients are using promising oral treatments for cancer but are being forced to pay high out-of-pocket costs. In more unfortunate circumstances, some patients are electing to forgo or delay treatment ( because of high drug prices.

“We have to fix this disparity in coverage so cancer patients are making healthcare decisions based on the best information, not which treatment fits into outdated guidelines . . . [nor] forced to pay astronomical out-of-pocket costs or forgo treatment altogether,” Lance said.

The provision of health is rapidly changing, and with advances in treatments and cures for so many diseases, the financial onus is a huge component for patients and providers to consider when seeking a personal course for care. Financial toxicity has been shown to impact patients with cancer, along with their outcomes, and is a pertinent healthcare issue for many.

Many cancer advocacy organizations are behind the bill and are interested in who will champion the cause in the U.S. Senate. ONS, and its health policy team, are working to support the leadership of Congressmen Lance and Higgins and will eagerly look to the Senate as the legislation progresses.

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