The Patient-Based Coalition Says Patients Are Making Legislative Gains to Improve Insurance Coverage; Calls on Insurance Industry to Put Patient Needs First at Upcoming National Meeting in Seattle
Lotos NileKissy Black, [email protected] PRStephen Gendel, 646-237-6926
, a patient-driven campaign to put the patient voice at the center of health cost discussions, says 33 states and the District of Columbia have now passed laws to require insurance companies to reimburse all cancer treatments at the same rate, with similar laws pending in two additional states. Currently pills taken by mouth have much larger copays than treatments given by IV infusion. says cancer patients deserve the therapies their doctors prescribe, and should not have to settle for what some insurance companies will pay for. The organizers of are calling on the industry trade organization, America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), to agree to stop fighting doctors and patients on this key issue at its national “Institute 2014” in Seattle, June 11—13, and to adopt reimbursement parity as a matter of policy in all 50 states.
“I’ve been treated with both an innovative pill-based regimen and a bone marrow transplant,” says Bob Tufts, a myeloma patient and former Major League Baseball player-now-college professor who helped found . “The transplant cost six figures and left me weak and unable to work for several months. Contrast that with the oral cancer medication that has kept me in remission for the last four years. It allows me to work and to contribute to society, pay taxes and pay my insurance premiums. So attacking the pharmaceutical component of my treatment doesn’t benefit the economy, certainly doesn’t help me as a patient, and just doesn’t make sense.”
Also, Connecticut has passed a law to restrict so-called step therapy that requires patients to fail on older, often less expensive drugs before they can get the therapy they need. says step therapy is another false economy that hurts patients and benefits no one.
“Innovative new drugs actually save money,” says health economist Robert Goldberg, Ph.D., vice president of the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest and one of the founders of . “Even the new $1,000-per-pill hepatitis therapy that has precipitated the most recent wave of concern is less expensive than current treatments that include liver transplants and debilitating medications. And, the new pill offers a cure! It may require an upfront investment by insurers, but in the long run, they will be saving money and, more importantly, saving lives.”
is alarmed about statements from the AHIP leadership saying pharmaceutical prices “threaten to bankrupt families and bust government healthcare budgets.” In fact, innovative therapeutics are a lifeline for patients. will be watching closely to see if AHIP is on the side of patients at its upcoming meeting.
Adds Bob Tufts, “We are circulating a petition saying patients must have direct input into any discussions of cost that could limit our access to the best treatments available. Our voice needs to be heard.”
The petition can be found at .