WASHINGTON, May 12, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- More than 100 inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) patients and their loved ones from 19 states joined with the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA) today to meet with Members of Congress and implore them to help limit the cost of care for IBD patients by passing the Patients' Access to Treatment Act (HR 1600). They also honored Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) with CCFA's Lifetime Achievement Award and Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) with CCFA's Public Policy Leadership Award for their commitment to supporting patients living with these debilitating digestive diseases.
Advocates from California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, and Washington met with over 130 House and Senate offices today to urge them to support the Patients' Access to Treatment Act. If passed, the Patients' Access to Treatment Act would improve the lives of the 1.6 million Americans living with Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis by limiting cost-sharing for complex and expensive medications.
"Living with a chronic disease like Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis is extremely costly. In fact, studies estimate that the total annual financial burden of Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis in the United States may exceed $31 billion when you factor in both direct and indirect costs to patients," said Michael Osso, President & CEO of CCFA. "We need to be working to decrease the financial burden of these diseases, not increasing the cost to patients needing these specialty medications."
Patients' Access to Treatment Act
Many health insurance policies are moving critical medications, such as biologics, into "specialty tiers" that utilize high patient cost-sharing methods known as "co-insurance." This specialty tier, often the highest tier, now commonly requires patients to pay a percentage of the cost of medication - anywhere from 20 percent to 50 percent, which can often be hundreds or even thousands of dollars each month for a single medication - rather than a fixed co-payment amount.
The Patients' Access to Treatments Act, introduced by Congressman David McKinley (R-WV-1) and Congresswoman Lois Capps (D-CA-24), would enable patients to better afford the medications they need by imposing limits on cost-sharing in insurance plans. It would restrict cost-sharing for specialty drugs, like biologics, to the level of cost-sharing for other non-preferred drugs. Insurers determine patient cost-sharing by listing drugs in specialty tiers, non-preferred tiers, preferred tiers, and generics tiers. Cost-sharing is highest for specialty drugs, and higher for non-preferred drugs than for generics or preferred drugs.
"We thank Congressman McKinley and Congresswoman Capps for championing this important piece of legislation and urge Congress to take swift action and pass HR 1600. Doing so would help make living with Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, and other debilitating chronic illnesses less burdensome and more affordable," Osso said.
IBD Day on the Hill
Today's legislative visits mark the culmination of CCFA's 14th annual IBD Day on the Hill. In addition to meeting with legislators about the Patients' Access to Care Act, advocates also asked legislators to join the Congressional Crohn's & Colitis Caucus. Chaired by Congressman Ander Crenshaw (R-FL) and Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY), the bipartisan Caucus was created in 2011 and works to raise awareness of IBD, support IBD medical research, and protect patient access to care. There are currently more than 71 caucus members from 26 states and the District of Columbia.
About Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis
Known collectively as inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis affects 1 in 200 people. They are painful, medically incurable diseases that attack the digestive system. Crohn's disease may attack anywhere along the digestive tract, while ulcerative colitis inflames only the large intestine (colon). Symptoms may include abdominal pain, persistent diarrhea, rectal bleeding, fever, and weight loss. Many patients require numerous hospitalizations and surgery. Most people develop the diseases between the ages of 15 and 35; however the incidence is increasing in children.
About the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America
The Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA) is the largest non-profit, voluntary, health organization dedicated to finding cures for inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD). CCFA's mission is to cure Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, and to improve the quality of life of children and adults who suffer from these diseases. The Foundation works to fulfill its mission by funding research; providing educational resources for patients and their families, medical professionals, and the public; and furnishing supportive services for those afflicted with IBD. For more information visit www.ccfa.org, call 888-694-8872, or email email@example.com.
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SOURCE Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America