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

Jul 14, 2010, 10:31 ET from National Patient Advocate Foundation

Pennsylvania State Legislators Encouraged to Support HB 1865, Ensure Patient Access to Affordable, Life-saving Anticancer Therapies

PHILADELPHIA, July 14 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Patient advocates visited the Capitol in Philadelphia today as part of the National Patient Advocate Foundation's (NPAF) 2010 Pennsylvania State Advocacy Day to urge the Pennsylvania Legislature to support SB 1865, commonly referred to as the "Oral Chemotherapy Co-Pay" bill.  The proposed bill would ensure that every cancer patient in Pennsylvania has access to all potentially life-saving anticancer therapies, including oral chemotherapy, by protecting patients from higher co-insurance rates.  NPAF's efforts also coincided with the statewide Patient Advocacy Day proclaimed by Governor Ed Rendell.

"I am excited and honored to be part of NPAF's Pennsylvania State Advocacy Day," said Eilene Frierson, a NPAF patient ambassador from Philadelphia.  "We're in Harrisburg in commemoration of Governor Rendell's proclamation of July 14th as Patient Advocate Day. We thank Governor Edward Rendell and Senator Vincent Hughes (D-7) for their tireless efforts to recognize Patient Advocacy in Pennsylvania. It is significant that we are here on this particular day to bring attention to the importance of patient access to the most appropriate, medically-effective and minimally-invasive anticancer medications available.  For all cancer patients across Pennsylvania, whose lives depend on the availability of quality cancer care, I urge our state legislators to support this bill."

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, ten 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.  

HB 1865 was introduced on July 16, 2009 by Representative Frank Burns (D-72). The bill passed the House unanimously on June 14th, 2010 and was referred to the Senate Committee on Banking and Insurance where it is currently under consideration. An analysis by the House Committee on Appropriations of this bill and its potential impact on the state's budget found that providing the oncology benefit under HB 1865 is estimated to cost a total of approximately $100,000 annually and concluded that "these minimal costs would not significantly impact commonwealth funds."

Patient advocates that attended today's NPAF Pennsylvania State Advocacy Day hope that lawmakers will support and pass HB 1865 to protect cancer patients' access to anticancer therapies and quality care.

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

By declaring July 14th Patient Advocacy Day, Governor Rendell offered his support in affirming the state's commitment to stand in voice and action as an advocate for all patients.

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