HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – A bill headed to the desk of Gov. Tom Wolf would make Pennsylvania the latest state to require equal insurance coverage of chemotherapy regardless of whether the drugs are given by needle or taken orally.
House Bill 60, approved by the General Assembly, is intended to help cancer patients by making oral cancer drugs more affordable and accessible.
Senator Tommy Tomlinson (R-Bucks), the Senate sponsor of the legislation, said under current law, intravenous anti-cancer medications are typically covered under a health plan’s medical benefit, often requiring patients to pay a minimal fixed co-payment.
Orally-administered anticancer medications, however, are covered under a health plan’s pharmacy benefit, making them much more costly and sometimes an unaffordable option.
“Under the pharmacy benefit, oral anti-cancer medications are classified in the highest tier of a health plan’s cost-sharing system, requiring patients to pay much higher out of pocket costs for a treatment that is just as effective and often much more convenient,” Tomlinson said in a statement. “This creates a huge financial barrier for patients to access the same medicine prescribed by their doctor just because it’s in an oral form.”
Tomlinson said 39 states and the District of Columbia have already passed similar laws.