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Central New Jersey Support Group Leader’s Testimony Makes a Difference

Congratulations and THANK YOU to Paula Van Riper, patient and leader of the Central New Jersey Support Group, for being this month’s Advocate of the Month!

In June, Paula testified before the Assembly Health Committee on behalf of oral chemotherapy access legislation in New Jersey.

The bill, A2666/S1834, would require health insurers to cover oral anticancer medications on a basis no less favorable than intravenous anticancer medications.

Paula was diagnosed 12 years ago at the age of 51. She explained to the committee that she is here today because she and her doctor selected treatment options that she responded well to, and most importantly, because she is lucky to have a robust health care plan that is inclusive of prescription drug coverage.

Unfortunately, other patients and members of her support group are not as lucky.

“My group members have privately shared with me the enormous costs they would face if they considered an oral agent and therefore they must rely on available IV therapy with no assurance that any IV therapy will work for them and if so, for how long,” Paula shared.

Paula explained that although myeloma is not curable, there are a number of therapies available and it is imperative to keep all treatment options on the table because there is no way of knowing what will and will not work for individual patients. And, eventually all therapies will fail.

She pleaded, “Health Insurance companies should not dictate which chemotherapy treatment is appropriate for a patient. Doctors and their patients should make that decision. Patients should not be forced to accept only IV therapy because the other option is too financially burdensome. All chemotherapies should be paid in a similar manner and it should not be left to the discretion of health insurance carriers.”

Paula assured the committee that every member of the central Jersey MM Support Group is in complete support of this legislation.

Thanks to Paula’s testimony, the committee voted unanimously to pass the bill. It now moves forward to the Assembly floor for a full vote.

We asked Paula to share her thoughts about the day…

“I feel honored and exhilarated to have the opportunity to testify in support of legislation which would allow patients (in NJ) to select chemotherapy treatment options based on their doctors’ judgment rather than be concerned with out-of-pocket expenses associated with oral chemotherapy agents. Insurance companies should not be permitted to discriminate but rather they should be required to pay for all methods of chemotherapy equally.”

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