North Hollywood, CA, May 2, 2012 – The International Myeloma Foundation (IMF)—the oldest and largest foundation dedicated to improving the life and care of myeloma patients—said patients and families will benefit from new insurance rules signed into law this week by the governors of Delaware and Virginia. Both states’ legislatures had passed bills requiring health care plans to provide coverage of oral cancer drugs on par with that provided for I.V. drugs.
Governor Jack Markell signed the Delaware Cancer Treatment Access Act, House Bill 265, Tuesday at the state capital in Dover, DE. Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell signed Senate Bill 450 and House Bill 1273 in a ceremony Monday in Richmond, VA. Passage of the bills is a victory for those cancer patients whose lives depend on access to the new wave of cancer treatments. Oral drugs are expected to make up 25 percent of all cancer treatments by 2013, according to the National Comprehensive Cancer Network.
“It’s encouraging to see states recognize that policy needs to keep pace with medical advances that offer lifelines to patients who have exhausted other treatments,” said Susie Novis, President and Co-founder of the IMF. “On behalf of cancer patients, the IMF is passionately engaged in raising awareness of this discrepancy in health care coverage in legislatures across the nation.”
Maryland and Nebraska have also recently passed legislation that broadens access to oral cancer drugs by requiring health care companies to cover these advanced therapies at the same rate as intravenous cancer medications. Under the insurance “medical benefit,” patients on I.V. drugs are responsible for only low co-pays. Oral cancer drugs, however, are often covered under the “prescription benefit.” meaning patients may be responsible for a percentage of the cost of the drug itself. This can be thousands of dollars out-of-pocket and not reimbursed.
“Being newly diagnosed with cancer, multiple myeloma to be specific, was very difficult. But it was devastating to be told that my insurance policy would not cover the thousands of dollars a month for the anti-cancer drug that was recommended to save my life,” said Kelley Campbell of Clayton, DE. “This new law will alleviate that worry for me and countless other cancer patients.”
Arin Assero, Director of Advocacy for the IMF, said, “Legislation that equalizes reimbursement of oral cancer drugs allows patients to get treatment that’s right for them as determined by their doctors--and not by financial considerations."
Both signing ceremonies were attended by bill supporters, members of the cancer community and patient advocacy organizations, among them, the IMF, a member of the Delaware Cancer Treatment Access Coalition. In all, 19 states have passed oral drug parity legislation.
Myeloma, also called multiple myeloma, is a cancer of cells in the bone marrow that affects production of red cells, white cells and stem cells and can damage bone.
ABOUT THE INTERNATIONAL MYELOMA FOUNDATION
Celebrating its 21st anniversary, the International Myeloma Foundation is the oldest and largest myeloma organization, reaching more than 215,000 members in 113 countries worldwide. A 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life of myeloma patients and their families, the IMF focuses on four key areas: research, education, support, and advocacy. To date, the IMF has conducted more than 250 educational seminars worldwide, maintains a world-renowned hotline, and established the International Myeloma Working Group (IMWG), a collaborative research initiative focused on improving myeloma treatment options for patients. The IMF can be reached at (800) 452-CURE (2873). The global website is www.myeloma.org