Cancer Patient Advocates Visit State Capitol, Ask California Legislature to Support Patient Access to Care

Jun 11, 2010, 11:44 ET from National Patient Advocate Foundation

California State Legislators Encouraged to Support SB 961, Ensure Patient Access to Affordable, Life-saving Anticancer Therapies

SACRAMENTO, Calif., June 11 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Patient advocates visited the Capitol in Sacramento yesterday as part of the National Patient Advocate Foundation's (NPAF) 2010 California State Advocacy Day to urge the California Legislature to support SB 961, commonly referred to as the "Oral Chemotherapy Co-Pay" bill.  The proposed bill would ensure that every cancer patient in California has access to all potentially life-saving anticancer therapies, including oral chemotherapy, by protecting patients from higher co-insurance rates.

"I am excited and honored to be part of NPAF's California State Advocacy Day," said Sandra Karol, a NPAF patient ambassador from Palo Alto.  "Educating our state legislators about the importance of equal access to oral chemotherapy drugs is essential because for millions of patients in California, this is a viable alternative to IV chemotherapy which saves time and resources and results in less lost productivity."

Patient advocates met with their state legislators to share their personal stories about cancer treatment and the benefits of access to both oral and non-oral chemotherapies without cost being a barrier to care.  Oral chemotherapy can potentially reduce resource utilization and health care system costs, improve drug safety, and improve a cancer patient's quality of life.  As oral medications are more easily administered, they can provide a more convenient and less invasive method of anticancer therapy and offer an alternative for patients who have failed to respond to other treatments.  In certain cases, oral chemotherapies can be more effective and result in less adverse reactions than seen with intravenous (I.V.) chemotherapy and therefore viewed by some patients to be the more favorable of the two treatment options.

Twenty-six states and the District of Columbia have introduced legislation and of these, eight states and the District have passed legislation to require that coverage for oral chemotherapy treatments be provided on a basis no less favorable than intravenous cancer medications.  The California Legislature attempted to pass similar legislation in 2009, but met opposition from the Governor and the bill was vetoed.  Currently, California patients are not protected against higher co-payments for oral medications when these therapies are sought as alternatives to intravenous chemotherapies.

SB 961 was introduced February 5, 2010 by Senator Roderick Wright (D-25) and was coauthored by Sens. Dave Cox (R-1), Gloria Negrete McLeod (D-34), and Tony Strickland (R-19).  The legislation passed the Senate floor on May 24 and has moved to the Assembly Health Committee, where the bill is currently under revision.  

Patient advocates that attended yesterday's NPAF State Advocacy Day hope that lawmakers will support and pass SB 961 to protect cancer patients' access to anticancer therapies and quality care.

"Affordable health care coverage should be available to every California resident," said Nancy Davenport-Ennis, President and CEO of NPAF.  "We will continue to work with the California Legislature to ensure that cancer patients have access to all life-saving anticancer therapies without cost being a barrier to accessing care."

NPAF and its companion organization, the Patient Advocate Foundation (PAF), were established in 1996 on the principle that health care is a basic human need and shared social responsibility.  NPAF is dedicated to working with Congress and all levels of government to overcome challenges and create solutions that will allow for high-quality, affordable health care for all. In 2009, PAF case managers assisted 55,384 patients, each with chronic, life-threatening or debilitating conditions struggling to access health care.  Additionally, PAF responds to millions of online requests for information or chat line support.  For more information see

SOURCE National Patient Advocate Foundation