Last updated on April 19, 2014 at 13:20 EDT

Virginia’s Cancer Patients, Cancer Care Advocates Urge General Assembly to Create Parity in Insurance Coverage for Preferred Cancer Drugs

February 14, 2012

Advocates Encourage Passage of SB 450, HB 1273 to Provide Equality in Coverage for Orally Administered Chemotherapy Drugs

RICHMOND, Va., Feb. 14, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Citing the significant quality of life benefits that oral chemotherapy drugs can provide over intravenously (IV) administered chemotherapy, Virginia’s cancer community, patient advocacy representatives and patients themselves called on the General Assembly today to pass key legislation this year to ensure Virginia’s cancer patients are able to access their physician-prescribed chemotherapy treatments of choice.

Orally administered chemotherapy drugs are often favored by cancer patients over IV chemotherapy, which can often lead to side effects including pain, hair loss, nausea, vomiting and anemia. Although oral chemotherapy treatments are increasingly available in the marketplace for treating various cancers, thousands of Virginia’s cancer patients are unable to access these preferred treatments due to their health insurance plans’ higher copays, expensive deductibles or restrictive coverage limits for oral chemotherapy treatment.

“We need to help Virginia’s cancer patients access they treatments they desire and deserve, and support legislation to ensure they are able to receive their chemotherapy in the manner that provides them with greatest comfort and convenience,” said Nancy Davenport-Ennis, founder and CEO of the Virginia-based Patient Advocate Foundation (PAF) and National Patient Advocate Foundation (NPAF). “PAF assisted more than 7,000 cancer patients in Virginia last year who were struggling with access to care challenges, and through our work with these patients we know that assistance with paying for oral chemotherapy drugs is a priority issue for individuals battling cancer.”

“Cancer patients and the cancer community are simply asking that health insurers’ coverage offerings keep pace with medical advances, and that patients are able to access the chemotherapy treatment that works best for their situation and lifestyle,” said Zina D. Cary
National Director, State Affairs, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. “We are pleased to see legislation to provide insurance coverage parity introduced in Virginia’s General Assembly, and we wholeheartedly support its passage and enactment this year.”

Senate Bill 450 and House Bill 1273 would require group and individual health insurance plans to cover oral chemotherapy drugs on terms no less favorable than coverage provided for IV chemotherapy. If passed in the General Assembly, Virginia will join 15 other states and the District of Columbia in adopting similar oral chemotherapy parity legislation.

“Cancer patients deserve the best treatment dictated by their oncologists, not insurance cost. Oral chemotherapy drugs can provide patients with important efficacy, lifestyle, and quality of life benefits,” said Ted Okon, executive director of the Community Oncology Alliance (COA). “This legislation makes sense from the patient perspective, and ensuring access to the most appropriate therapy will also minimize hospitalizations and other adverse and costly outcomes – making it a win/win for all.”

SOURCE Patient Advocate Foundation

Source: PR Newswire