Virginia's Leading Patient Advocate Group Praises State House and Senate for Supporting Equality in Coverage for Oral Chemotherapy Drugs

Feb 17, 2012, 11:09 ET from National Patient Advocate Foundation

National Patient Advocate Foundation Commends House and Senate Lawmakers for Passing SB 450, HB 1273 to Improve Virginia Patients' Access to Patient and Physician Preferred Oral Treatments; Call for Legislation's Enactment this Year

RICHMOND, Va., Feb. 17, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Representatives of Virginia's patient advocacy community praised the State House of Representatives and State Senate today for voting strongly in support of legislation that, if enacted, will help thousands of Virginia's insured cancer patients who are currently unable to access their physician-prescribed chemotherapy treatment regimens of choice. The bills, which would create parity in insurance coverage for orally administered chemotherapy, were passed in the Senate yesterday by a vote of 37 to 4 and in the House with a unanimous vote of 100 to 0.

"Oral chemotherapy drugs taken at home lend greater compliance to treatment protocols by patients who miss less time from work and family responsibilities," said Nancy Davenport-Ennis, founder and CEO of the Virginia-based Patient Advocate Foundation (PAF) and National Patient Advocate Foundation (NPAF). "This legislation enhances the opportunity for physicians and patients to make treatment decisions based on the best treatment protocol for each patient's particular case."  

Although oral chemotherapy treatments are increasingly available for treating various types of cancer and patients often prefer it to intravenous (IV) chemotherapy, insurance coverage can be a hindrance to patients' access to these treatments. Because health insurance plans often cover oral chemotherapy drugs under prescription drug coverage, which is generally not as comprehensive or financially feasible as coverage for IV drugs, this disparity in coverage can leave many cancer patients with no choice but to sit for hours at a time in a cancer care facility while they undergo physically difficult IV treatments.

"It is significant Virginia lawmakers are engaging in a bipartisan process to address equal opportunity for patients seeking oral and IV chemotherapy treatments," noted Larry Lanier, Executive Vice President of State Government Affairs for NPAF.

If enacted, Senate Bill 450 and House Bill 1273 would require group and individual health insurance plans to cover oral chemotherapy drugs on terms no less favorable than coverage provided for IV chemotherapy. The bills will next require concurrence from each chamber before being sent to Governor McDonald for his signature.

SOURCE National Patient Advocate Foundation