When we left off last month state legislative sessions and Congress were just getting underway—now they are in full swing! Over 1000 of you took action this past month at the state and federal level! Here is a quick round up of what has happened as a result of your great work starting at the state level:
In the States...
We start our journey this month in Wisconsin, where the bill is being prepared for introduction, because to have the best chance at passing a bill you must have strong bipartisan support from the beginning. Lobbyists and advocates have logged countless hours visiting legislators, sharing their stories and delivering more than 300 postcards from Wisconsin advocates, collected over the winter. We are also working the halls to ensure this year the bill is referred to a friendly committee. Hopefully, our efforts will pay off soon with the reintroduction of the oral chemotherapy parity bill. Ask your Wisconsin legislator to co-sponsor today!
Last week, well below the Mason-Dixon Line in North Carolina, you spoke up and forty-five legislators signed on as co-sponsors during the 36 hour window to sponsor the bill. The Cancer Treatment Fairness Act (H609) has been referred to the House Health and Human Services Committee. We are also proud to announce that the lead sponsor, Representative David Lewis, is the nephew of one of our amazing advocates! This past Tuesday H609 passed out of committee and has been sent to the insurance committee for review.
Also down in Dixie, the Florida state senate voted unanimously to pass SB 422, with the action now moving to the house companion bill HB 301. Last week we delivered over 300 postcards to the members of the house asking for their support of the bill and urging Rep. Corcorcan to schedule a hearing for the bill. Thanks you to all the advocates who helped collect these postcards because he listened and the Health and Human Services Committee heard the bill on April 16th and it passed! On to the full floor!
Moving north, in the Buckeye state of Ohio
, the bill was reintroduced by Senator Scott Oelslager (SB 99) on Thursday, April 11th. Over the past few years the oral anticancer parity act has been combined with separate legislation, which has complicated the process and prevented the passage of either bill. We have high hopes that having the bill stand by itself this year will greatly improve its chances of moving through the process. Take Action!
On the state legislative hearing front, the end of March and beginning of April saw lots of activity with first hearings of bills in California, Missouri, Nevada and Rhode Island. In California, the Health committee heard AB 219 and voted unanimously to pass AB 219 on April 9th. On Monday we saw the California Assembly pass AB219, 63-10 sending the bill to the senate.
In Nevada, SB266 was passed out of committee, while Rhode Island’s bills (HB 5359 and SB 428) were both held in committee until May. On Tuesday April 23rd, SB 266 passed in a unanimous vote sending this bill to the House for consideration.
And finally, drum roll please, in the Dust Bowl, Oklahoma has become the 23rd state to pass an oral anticancer bill! SB 765 passing the house on April 15th and Governor Mary Fallin signing it into law on Tuesday April 23rd.
Meanwhile, back on Capitol Hill….
The Cancer Drug Coverage Parity Act of 2013 is closing in on its introduction thanks to the enormous support of myeloma patients and their families who sent over 700 emails to more than 250 Congressional members asking for co-sponsorship. Our longtime champion, Rep. Brian Higgins (Buffalo, NY- D) will introduce the legislation before the end of the month with bipartisan support. There is still time to ask your legislator to co-sponsor the bill. Email them today!
As you can see many bills are turning this month and with your help are moving in the right direction to help patients gain access to the treatments they need. Thank you to everyone who has emailed or called their legislators on these important pieces of legislation. Until next time...
Keep contacting your legislators!