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Bilirakis Fights to Ensure Cancer Patients Have Equivalent Access to Oral Chemotherapy

July 16, 2021
Press Release

Bilirakis Fights to Ensure Cancer Patients Have Equivalent Access to Oral Chemotherapy

 

Washington, D.C.: Representative Gus Bilirakis (R-FL-12), Brian Higgins (D -NY-26), Brett Guthrie (R-KY-2), and Doris Matsui (D-CA-6) announced introduction of the Cancer Drug Parity Act, a bipartisan bill requiring health insurance plans that cover intravenous and injectable cancer medications to also cover orally administered cancer medications at the equivalent rate.  Oral chemotherapy is increasingly becoming a standard treatment option for cancer doctors and patients, representing approximately 35% of the oncology development pipeline.  However, insurance coverage for cancer treatment has not kept up with science.  Under current law, traditional IV/injectable treatments are routinely covered under the medical benefit component of a health insurance plan, while orally-administered anti-cancer medications are generally covered under the prescription drug component, which often results in a considerable disparity in cost.

Cancer patients should have access to whichever treatment gives them the best chance to fully recover. Technological advancements are improving patient outcomes while minimizing side effects. Patients deserve to benefit from these advancements. This important bill addresses this problem and enables patients to keep their primary focus on getting well,” said Congressman Bilirakis. 

Innovative research has led to more effective and accessible treatment options for Cancer patients, but insurance coverage hasn’t kept pace,” said Congressman Higgins, who also serves as Chair of the House Cancer Caucus.   “The Cancer Drug Parity Act, levels the costs, allowing patients and doctors, not insurance companies, to decide the best course of treatment, removing the cost discrepancy as a factor in cancer care.”

Congressman Guthrie said, “Due to great innovation, many cancer treatments can now be taken orally by a patient themselves, and I believe we must ensure these patients have full access to these important drugs. Americans suffering from cancer should not have to choose between one treatment option or another based on how their insurance classifies each treatment. The Cancer Drug Parity Act will fix the discrepancy between cancer treatment drugs that are orally administered and those that are intravenously or injected and will allow patients and doctors to choose the treatment that is right and most effective for them.”

Insurance companies shouldn’t be allowed to pick and choose what kind of treatment a cancer patient should receive – that should be left up to the medical professionals,” said Congresswoman Matsui. “That’s why this bipartisan, bicameral legislation is so critical, and Congress must pass this bill to address the disparity in cancer coverage. It’s time to put the decisions back in the hands of doctors and patients.”

 

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