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July 21, 2015

NPAF Praises Introduction of the Cancer Drug Coverage Act

2015-07-21 | June 16, 2015

(Washington, DC) National Patient Advocate Foundation today praised the introduction of the Cancer Drug Coverage Parity Act by Representatives Leonard Lance (NJ-7) and Brian Higgins (NY-26) in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senators Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Al Franken (D-MN) in the U.S. Senate.  The bipartisan legislation would make oral anti-cancer medications more affordable for patients by requiring insurance plans that already provide coverage for chemotherapy delivered through an IV to provide comparable coverage for anti-cancer medications given as a pill.

“We’ve been working state by state to pass oral parity laws and protect patients from unfair pricing guidelines. Now, finally, we have the chance to do it on the federal level and make sweeping change for patients nationwide,” said George Dahlman, NPAF Executive Vice President of Federal Affairs and Operations.

Increasingly, oral anti-cancer medications are becoming the therapy of choice for patients with cancer.  They are often more effective and more convenient, allowing the patient to receive treatment at home rather than travel to a hospital or treatment center.  However, insurers often cover these medications under a older formulary that requires patients to pay a higher out-of-pocket cost.

In a letter of support, NPAF wrote that for families already struggling to keep up with the costs of everyday life, “such out-of-pocket costs can be overwhelming, and many patients often resort to abandoning their prescriptions because of the cost.”

Oncologists suggest that 35% of present cancer research is focused on oral anti-cancer medications.

The full text of the support letter can be found here, and below.

 

June 16, 2015

The Honorable Leonard Lance
2352 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable Brian Higgins
2459 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Representatives Lance and Higgins,

On behalf of The National Patient Advocate Foundation (NPAF) and the more than 85,000 patients we serve each year from across the country, I write to thank you for your leadership in introducing the Cancer Drug
Coverage Parity Act (H.R. 2739), and convey our support and endorsement of this vital piece of legislation.

NPAF is a national, non-profit organization serving as the patient’s voice in support of access to better quality,affordable health care. As the advocacy affiliate of the Patient Advocate Foundation (PAF), NPAF translates the individual experience of thousands of patients into national and state policy initiatives. These patients represent
a wide range of chronic, debilitating and life-threatening illnesses across the lifespan, and face significant and concrete obstacles to accessing health care in the U.S.

As you well know, lack of parity in reimbursement for orally administered chemotherapy as opposed to chemotherapy provided via intravenous (IV) administration has proven to be a tremendous barrier to affordable care for cancer patients. Oral anti-cancer medications often require the patients we support to pay higher copayments than IV treatments, potentially costing each patient thousands of dollars more each month.

Unsurprisingly, for families already struggling to keep up with the costs of everyday life, such out-of-pocket costs can be overwhelming, and many patients often resort to abandoning their prescriptions because of the cost.

NPAF believes that oral anti-cancer products represent the future of cancer treatment. We strongly support the provisions in this vital, bipartisan legislation that will make oral anti-cancer medications more affordable for patients by requiring insurance plans that already provide coverage for chemotherapy delivered through an IV to provide comparable coverage for anti-cancer medications given as a pill.

We thank you for your leadership in advancing these important tenets included in H.R. 2739 in the United States Congress and for your continued work on behalf of cancer patients. NPAF looks forward to working with you to secure passage of this important legislation in the 114th Congress.