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Advocacy Update - August 15, 2011

August 15, 2011

Advocates in Action

FloridaGeorge Jurak from Auburndale, FL met with Representative Dennis Ross’ district office last week regarding HR 2746, the Cancer Coverage Parity Act of 2011.  He explained that all patients should access to chemotherapy regardless of the delivery method. And, emphasized that the bill is not an insurance mandate because it will only apply to health plans that already cover chemotherapy.

The staffer George met with listened intently and agreed with his points. He expects to hear back about Rep. Ross’ co-sponsorship of HR 2746 very soon.  

VirginiaJerry Walton, Norfolk, VA / Northeast NC Support Group leader attended Representative Scott Rigell’s town hall meeting on health issues last week.  Besides Rep. Rigell, there were three other Congressmen present who were doctors: Rep. Phil Roe (TN), Rep. Phil Gingrey (GA), and Rep. Larry Bucshon (IN).

The Representatives took turns talking and fielding questions that attendees had written down on 5x7 cards upon check in. Those questions not answered were promised a personal response from Rep. Rigell.

Jerry’s question to Rep. Rigell regarded his intent to support HR 2746, the Cancer Coverage Parity Act. Although his question was not called, he did pass out “leave behind” materials provided by the Advocacy team to staffers of all four Congressmen, along with his support group leader business card. 

Thank you George and Jerry for your initiative and hard work!

Happenings on the Hill

Cancer Coverage Parity Act of 2011 Introduced in the House
Representative Brian Higgins (D-NY) introduced HR 2746, the Cancer Coverage Parity Act of 2011, on August 1.  This important piece of legislation requires health insurance coverage of oral anticancer drugs on terms no less favorable than the coverage provided for intravenously (IV) administered anticancer medications.

IV and injected treatments were once the primary methods of cancer treatment.  However, oral treatments have become more prevalent and are the standard care for many types of cancer. Unfortunately, the insurance benefit design has not kept pace with this innovation. As it stands now, IV treatments are covered under a health plan’s medical benefit where the patient is typically required to pay a copay for the office visit.  Conversely, oral treatments are being covered under a health plan’s prescription benefit and many times, patients are responsible for extremely high and unmanageable copays to fill these prescriptions which creates a huge barrier to accessing the life saving medications that patients need.

HR 2746 ensures chemotherapy parity for cancer patients by requiring:

  • Any health plan that provides coverage for cancer chemotherapy treatment shall provide coverage for prescribed, orally administered anticancer medication that has been approved by the FDA and is used to kill or slow the growth of cancerous cells.
  • Orally administered medication shall be provided at a cost to the covered person not to exceed the coinsurance percentage or the copayment amount as is applied to the delivery of an intravenously or port administered or an injected cancer medication prescribed for the same purpose.
  • A health plan shall not achieve compliance with legislation by imposing an increase in patient out-of-pocket costs with respect to anticancer medications used to kill or slow the growth of cancerous cells.
  • Health plans shall not reclassify such anticancer medications, whether orally-administered, intravenously or port administered or injected, as other than medical benefits to achieve compliance with legislation. 

IMF needs your help to build support for HR 2746 among Members of Congress.   To write your
U.S. Representative and ask them to co-sponsor HR 2746, click here.

Schedule a Meeting with your Representative in August
The House and Senate recessed shortly after passing the debt limit deal on August 2.  Both Chambers will be back for legislative business on September 6.   This month long period is a perfect opportunity for members of the myeloma community to schedule a district meeting with their Congressional Members or attend a town hall meeting to bring HR 2746 to their attention.  IMF has drafted everything you need for a district meeting and a town hall meeting including talking points, advocacy tips, materials to leave with Congressional staff at the meeting, and a list of upcoming Congressional town meetings for the rest of August.  All of these documents are included in this e-mail. 

For more information about the legislation listed above or any other IMF advocacy initiative, contact IMF’s Director of Government Relations, Christine Murphy at cmurphy@myeloma.org or 703-738-1498.

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