Legislature passes bill dealing with chemotherapy
Monday, April 2, 2012
By KEVIN O'HANLON
Lincoln Journal Star
Nebraska lawmakers gave 42-0 final approval Monday to a bill (LB882) under which oral chemotherapy will be treated the same as intravenous cancer treatments for insurance purposes.
The bill's sponsor, Sen. Jeremy Nordquist of Omaha, said the lack of parity in coverage between intravenous and oral chemotherapy medications was a growing problem, with some cancer treatments costing $5,000 to $10,000 a month.
He said his bill would ensure that patients and doctors could make decisions about the course of treatment based on what would provide the best care, not what insurance companies deemed the most cost-effective.
Research shows that when confronted with the reality of high out-of-pocket expenses, cancer patients forgo expensive therapies and often discontinue treatments, in part because they do not want to saddle their families with unmanageable debt, Nordquist said.
Because oncologists know how expensive oral medications can be, he said, they often do not prescribe them -- even when they think that would be the better option.
The actuarial and benefits consulting firm Milliman Inc. did a study in 2010 that estimated requiring similar coverage for oral chemotherapy would cost less than $6 a year per person in most insurance plans. The study was paid for by GlaxoSmithKline, which makes and is developing oral chemotherapy drugs.