Although the Access to Cancer Therapies Act (S. 913, H.R. 1624), also known as the Oral Drug bill, has 56 cosponsors in the Senate and 327 cosponsors in the House, it seems to be on a fast track to nowhere. As Congress wrestles with appropriations logjams and upcoming elections, the real question is How serious are the cosponsors about passing the bill they support?
The Oral Drug bill would provide Medicare coverage for all oral cancer drugs. There has been talk of including it in a Medicare reform package that Congress was expected to consider prior to the end of this session of Congress. Now that it seems certain that a lame duck session will extend Congress until after the November elections, will they still have the energy to pass a Medicare bill? And if they do, will they include the Oral Drug bill as one of its provisions?
The answer is that they will if a sense of urgency about the bill exists. You are needed to kick the spurs to get Congress moving.
Although 383 of the 535 members of Congress (senators plus representatives) have cosponsored the bill, cancer advocates have to urge them to be more committed. Committed to ensure passage of the bill. Committed to make sure that government policy keeps up with the science of cancer drug development. Committed to the pledges they have made to cancer patients throughout nation.
Please contact your members of Congress to insist on action on the Access to Cancer Therapies Act before the end of this session. Any action not taken before Congress goes into recess means the bill will die and everything will have to begin anew next January. And that likely means at least two years before any substantive action on oral drug coverage would have any chance of passing again.
If you have any questions, please contact Greg Brozeit at email@example.com.