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On House Floor, Higgins Pushes For Cancer Drug Coverage

Cancer Drug Coverage Parity Act would guarantee equal insurance coverage for orally-administered chemotherapy

Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) spoke on the Floor of the House of Representatives today regarding H.R. 2739, the Cancer Drug Coverage Parity Act. The bipartisan legislation would require health insurance companies to provide equal coverage for traditional, intravenous chemotherapy and orally-administered prescription chemotherapy drugs.

Health insurance companies cover most IV treatments under their medical benefit component, while orally-administered anti-cancer medications are usually covered under the prescription drug component.  This often results in a considerable disparity in coverage.   

As of April 2015, 39 states and the District of Columbia have passed oral parity laws to increase access to oral chemotherapy drugs, including New York State in 2011.

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Text of Higgins’ speech below:

“Mr. Speaker, Today 1.5 million patients will be diagnosed with cancer. Fortunately innovative research has led to more effective and accessible treatments. However, insurance has not kept pace with the science, and cancer patients are paying the price. 

“Chemotherapy, previously administered only through injection, is now available for many types of cancer in pill form.  Today oral chemotherapy represents 35 percent of all new cancer drugs.  However, co-payments for oral chemo can be hundreds or thousands of dollars per month. As a result preventing patients from filling their prescriptions.

“A cancer patient should never be forced to make a treatment decision based on finances.  This is why I joined Congressman Leonard Lance to re-introduce the Cancer Drug Coverage Parity Act, which would require health insurance plans to cover traditional chemotherapy to provide no less favorable coverage for prescribed, orally-administered drugs.  I urge my colleagues to support this bipartisan effort to ensure cancer patients can receive their treatments their doctors prescribe.”