Komen St. Louis joined with Komen Greater Kansas City and Komen Mid-Missouri in Jefferson City as part of the Missouri Coalition for Cancer Treatment Access’ support of oral chemotherapy parity legislation. This statewide patient advocacy coalition is calling on the Missouri Legislature to act on the proposed bill during the 2014 session.
Read about the proposed legislation in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Here is text of the news release distributed by the Missouri Coalition for Cancer Treatment Access:
JEFFERSON CITY – On behalf of thousands of Missouri cancer patients, survivors and their families, the Missouri Coalition for Cancer Treatment Access, applauds the proposed state legislation that would give cancer patients access to the most effective cancer treatments and calls on the Legislature to pass the law in 2014.
Currently, cancer patients in Missouri are forced to choose between the chemotherapy that could save their lives or one that is fully covered by their insurance. The legislation proposed by Rep. Sheila Solon and Sens. Brian Munzlinger and Ryan Silvey would bring insurance coverage parity to both forms of chemotherapy – intravenous (IV) and pill form – simply requiring plans to have the same out-of-pocket costs for oral chemotherapy products if traditional chemotherapies are already covered.
Scientific advancements during the past several years have increased the availability and effectiveness of oral medications for cancer treatment. Up to 35 percent of all current drugs in the pipeline are oral treatments, adding new and less invasive alternatives to traditional intravenous (IV) chemotherapy infusions for treatment of at least 54 different types of cancer.
“In many cases, oral chemotherapy offers advantages important to overall quality of life for our patients and their caregivers, including the convenience of not having to travel several times a week for IV infusions that can take several hours each time,” said Debbie Kersting, executive director, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society – Gateway Chapter.
This flexibility is particularly important for people living in rural areas, who otherwise would have to travel long distances to the nearest treatment facility. In addition, these treatments allow patients the ability to continue to work and contribute to the economy because they are self-administered, and often have fewer side effects.
However, because oral cancer drugs in Missouri are covered as a pharmacy benefit, patients can be charged high co-insurances, up to 50 percent of the cost of the therapy, even if the oral drugs are the only treatment available. This can result in out-of-pocket costs of hundreds to thousands of dollars each month. Sadly, several studies show 25 percent of patients do not fill their initial prescriptions for cancer pills when the co-pays exceed $500.
“These patients are literally fighting for their lives and we should do everything we can to make certain that our insurance system treats them with compassion, respect and fairness. The specific treatment should be left to the patient and his or her doctor and devoid of financial pressure that result from unnecessary and archaic insurance coverage laws,” said Dr. Bruce J. Roth, professor of medicine, Washington University.
To date, 27 states and the District of Columbia have passed oral chemotherapy parity legislation to help equalize patient out-of-pocket costs, modernize health insurance and improve cancer care.