Legislative sessions have kept us on our toes this month with a flurry of amendments, hearings, votes and political maneuvers from around the country. In addition, we have added two more states with laws in place to ensure access to all anticancer treatment options. This week alone, bills have moved in four states! Check out the great work that is happening around the country.
Since episode 10, the FACT Act has overcome two more hurdles. On March 6, the Fair Access to Cancer Treatment Act passed the House of Representatives with a 57-0 vote! HB 2078 then moved over to the Senate where a hearing was held in the Senate Health Committee on Wednesday March 12. After hearing amazing testimony, the bill was unanimously voted out of committee. Ask for your AZ state senator’s support today!
At the start of this legislative session, we were excited to work on passing a law to help Georgians gain access to oral anticancer treatments, but were quickly disappointed. The Georgia Cancer Treatment Fairness Act, HB 493 took a turn for the worse when the bill adopted language that would allow insurance companies to cap the cost of oral anticancer treatments at $200 per prescription per month. Studies have shown that an out-of-pocket cost exceeding $100 will cause patients to walk away from treatment. The IMF and other patient groups worked hard to amend the bill in the Senate Insurance and Labor Committee, but were unsuccessful. Thank you to our advocates who did an amazing job conveying their disappointment in HB 943. Unfortunately, the bill is expected to become law. We haven’t given up and plan to work with coalition partners over the next year to educate legislators and strengthen support for lowering the cap.
Thursday March 20, the Cancer Treatment Modernization Act, SB 148 unanimously passed the State Senate! On March 11, IMF’s Zina Cary testified before the Senate Banking & Insurance Committee along with our advocate Toni O’Neil who spoke about her son who was diagnosed at 27 with multiple myeloma. Many patients and family members came to show their support for the legislation to committee members. The momentum excites us, however, with the Kentucky legislative session ending on Friday March 28, there are only a few days to have a hearing and vote in the House of Representatives! Now is the time to TAKE ACTION and email your Kentucky State Representative.
On February 26, Maine became the first state to pass an oral anticancer treatment access bill this year! Not only did it bring us to 28 states with laws, but it also showed the rest of the country that it is possible to pass a pure parity bill without caps. Click here for the details of the Maine law.
Last episode we left off with Director of US Advocacy Meghan Buzby’s testimony in support of SB 641, the Kathleen A Mathias Oral Chemotherapy Improvement Act of 2014. On March 17, the bill passed both chambers and is now on its way to the Governor’s desk for signature. We are very excited that this bill goes into effect January 1, 2015 and many more cancer patients in Maryland will not have to wait another year for equal coverage.
On March 19, Governor Nixon of Missouri signed SB 668, the Cancer Treatment Fairness Act, into law, making it the 29th state to pass oral anticancer treatment legislation. This law puts in place a cap of $75 per prescription per month for oral anticancer medications under private insurance plans. Thanks to the great work of our Missouri ACTION team, who delivered over 375 postcards to Governor Nixon requesting his signature on the bill, many more cancer patients in Missouri will have affordable access to all anticancer treatments.
We last had news from Ohio in December, when SB 99 passed the Senate Insurance Committee. We are excited to announce that on March 12, SB 99 passed the full State Senate 31-1! Thank you to all the advocates who have been working with us over the past few years in Ohio. And we’re not done yet! The Ohio Cancer Treatment Modernization Act must now tackle the Ohio House of Representatives. Click here to take action!
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