Thanks, Senator Moran!

Reprinted from Opinion Letters to the Editor
The Wichita Eagle

Senator Jerry Moran deserves praise for his sponsorship and support of the Cancer Drug Parity Act of 2019. As a practicing cancer physician, I can attest to the fact that this bipartisan effort will save the lives of many Americans who suffer from cancer.

In many ways, oral chemotherapy represents modern medicine at its best.  As we understand better the fundamental biology of cancer, new drugs are developed that target specific pathways within cancer cells. In many cases, these drugs are dramatically more effective than previous cancer treatments and have fewer side effects. With this success we will see more oral cancer drugs in the future – 25% of current drugs are oral and this number is expected to be 50% in the next 25 years.

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Oral cancer drugs and intravenous cancer drugs are covered under different portions of the patient’s insurance plan. It is quite common that my patients will have little to no co-pay for an intravenous drug, but for an oral chemotherapy drug, they often face large out-of-pocket expenses. Many patients are denied optimal therapy for their condition due to an inability to pay that has been artificially manufactured by their insurance coverage.

The Cancer Drug Parity Act of 2019 seeks to change that.

Specifically, the bill would mandate that patient out-of-pocket expenses for oral drugs would be comparable to that of their intravenous counterparts. By doing so, patients would no longer be subject to having arbitrary out-of-pocket expenses influence optimally treating the cancer. As oral drugs become an increasingly important part of our cancer treating arsenal, now is the time to ensure that all Americans have access to these life-saving drugs.

As a primary sponsor of this bill, Senator Moran should be praised for an effort in Washington that clearly has the best interests of the American public in mind. As a treating oncologist, a member of the Susan G Komen Kansas & Western Missouri Affiliate Board of Directors, the cancer treatment community and our patients we applaud his efforts.

Marc S Hoffmann, MD

Assistant Professor of Medicine
Department of Hematologic Malignancies and Cellular Therapeutics
University of Kansas Cancer Center
Board Member, Susan G Komen Kansas & Western Missouri Affiliate

BREAKING: Sen. Moran Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Make Life-Saving Oral Cancer Medications More Affordable

Moran

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE December 12, 2018
Contact: Morgan Said | 202-228-6519

Sen. Moran Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Make Life-Saving
Oral Cancer Medications More Affordable

Legislation Would Make Certain Oral Cancer Drugs are Covered in Same Way
as Traditional IV Chemotherapy

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Tina Smith (D-Minn.) today introduced the Cancer Drug Parity Act to make certain oral cancer drugs are covered in the same way as traditional (IV) chemotherapy to bring down costs for Americans battling cancer. The Cancer Drug Parity Act, which is co-sponsored by Senators Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), is needed to make certain the way health care covers cancer treatment catches up to the advances in oral cancer medications.

Currently, over 40 states – including Kansas – have passed “oral parity” laws that stop insurers from charging more for prescribed oral cancer medicine than IV chemotherapy. The Cancer Drug Parity Act would build on this work by expanding these protections at the federal level.

“Individuals suffering from cancer deserve the best treatment options available through their insurance,” said Sen. Moran. “As the number of oral cancer drugs increases each year, patients ought to be able to immediately benefit from these medical advancements. This sensible legislation would keep health insurance on pace with the latest cancer treatments, build on laws already implemented in 43 states and expand cancer coverage for oral drugs for 100 million individuals covered through group and individual health plans. I am a strong supporter of medical research to find new treatments, therapies, and cures, and I am working to make certain these exciting new treatments can reach cancer patients and ultimately save lives.”

The Cancer Drug Parity Act is supported by more than 30 organizations, including The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

“Many patients face obstacles when accessing oral chemotherapy drugs,” said Director of The University of Kansas Cancer Center and President of the Association of American Cancer Institutes Dr. Roy Jensen, which represents 98 academic cancer centers across North America. “At a time when developments in cancer care are advancing rapidly, it is essential for cancer centers like ours to provide patients with access to the best treatment. For some patients, there are no viable alternatives to oral chemotherapy drugs, which often come with high out-of-pocket costs. Oral chemotherapy is a priority for KU Cancer Center and for AACI, and we are delighted that Senators Moran and Smith are introducing this much-needed legislation.”

“Science is dramatically changing the way cancer is treated. Even with these breakthroughs, too many cancer patients can’t access their treatments because insurance rules have not kept pace with innovation,” said President and CEO of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Louis J. DeGennaro, Ph.D. “The Cancer Drug Parity Act will eliminate the financial barriers that stand between many cancer patients and the breakthrough treatments that could save their lives. The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society applauds Senator Smith and Senator Moran for their leadership on behalf of cancer patients and stands ready to work with Congress to move this important bill forward.”

The Cancer Drug Parity Act would:

  • Prevent insurers from covering oral and self-administered medicines at different cost-sharing rates than IV chemotherapy;
  • Not mandate that healthcare plans provide chemotherapy coverage, but rather only apply to plans already covering chemotherapy.

Read a summary of the bill here and full bill text here.

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