American Society of Hematology

Representatives Higgins & King To Introduce Cancer Oral Drug Parity Legislation; ASH Advocates for Patients to Have Equal Access to Treatment

Published on: April 25, 2013

On Friday, April 26, Representative Brian Higgins (D-NY) and Peter King (R-NY) will introduce the bi-partisan Cancer Drug Coverage Parity Act in the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill would ensure equality of access and insurance coverage for all anti-cancer regimens by requiring any health plan that provides coverage for cancer chemotherapy treatment to provide coverage for orally administered and self-injectable anticancer medications at a cost no less favorable than the cost of IV, port administered, or injected anticancer medications. The legislation would not be a mandate as it only applies to health plans that already cover chemotherapy.

Representative Higgins introduced similar legislation in the 112th Congress, but the bill was never considered either in committee or by the full House. Senator Al Franken (D-MN) has expressed an interest in introducing a bipartisan companion bill to the Cancer Coverage Parity Act in the Senate. A number of states have already passed oral parity legislation or are currently reviewing related legislation. While legislation will not solve the problem of the high cost of drugs, it does help remove the high cost burden on patients.

ASH continues to advocate for Congressional support of this legislation as a means of reducing the cost burden on many hematology patients. Members of the ASH Committee on Practice met with members of Congress on April 16 to emphasize the need for patients with blood cancers to have fair and equal access to all types of treatments and urge Members of Congress to co-sponsor this legislation.

In a similar effort, a Blood Forum piece that was published April 25 in Blood's online First Edition discusses how the increasing, unsustainably high cost of treatments for chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) in the U.S. is harming patients. This piece was also featured in an article in The New York Times.

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