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Congress Introduces Cancer Drug Parity Act

Washington, DC (March 13, 2019) – The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) is proud to support the Cancer Drug Parity Act, which will remove a key financial barrier that prevents some patients from accessing their prescribed cancer treatments. This bipartisan legislation was reintroduced today in the U.S. House of Representatives by Representative Brian Higgins (D-N.Y.), Representative Brett Guthrie (R-Ky.), Representative Doris Matsui (D-Calif.) and Representative Gus Bilirakis (R-Fla.), and yesterday in the U.S. Senate by Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Senator Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).

“LLS has invested nearly $1.3 billion in pioneering cancer research since its founding, leading to breakthroughs in precision medicine, genomics and immunotherapy which  are changing the landscape of how cancer is treated,” said Louis J. DeGennaro, Ph.D., LLS president and CEO. “Even with such tremendous progress, far too many cancer patients cannot access their treatments because of the burdensome out-of-pocket costs they face for some drugs.”

As innovation in precision medicine continues to transform cancer care, more cancer therapies are now administered by patients themselves in the form of a pill. For some patients, these new self-administered medicines are the only option to treat their specific form of cancer. Traditional IV-administered cancer treatments, provided in a hospital or clinic setting, are typically covered under health plans medical benefits, often requiring patients to pay a moderate co-pay. However, oral and other self-administered treatments are covered typically under health plans pharmacy benefits. This discrepancy often results in high out-of-pocket costs through coinsurance, which requires patients to pay a percentage of the overall cost of the self-administered medicine.

Patients who rely on oral or self-administered drugs to fight their cancer can face hundreds or thousands of dollars more in cost-sharing than patients who are treated with an IV medication. Over the past decade, 43 states have addressed this issue by passing a bipartisan solution—often known as “oral parity”—to prevent health plans from applying different cost-sharing to oral and self-administered treatments. However, these state oral parity laws provide protection only to patients with state-regulated insurance plans. The Cancer Drug Parity Act applies these same protections to the approximately 60% of privately-insured patients whose coverage is federally regulated. This legislation will ensure that patients across the country experience the same cost-sharing for all cancer treatments, allowing cancer patients to have equal access to the treatments recommended by their physicians.

“By creating an equal cost-sharing playing field for cancer treatments, the Cancer Drug Parity Act will eliminate a key financial barrier that prevents many patients from accessing breakthrough treatments that could save their lives,” said DeGennaro. “We stand ready to work with Congress to move this important bill forward.”

About The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society® (LLS) is the world's largest voluntary health agency dedicated to fighting blood cancer. The LLS mission: Cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families. LLS funds lifesaving blood cancer research around the world, provides free information and support services, and is the voice for all blood cancer patients seeking access to quality, affordable, coordinated care.

Founded in 1949 and headquartered in Rye Brook, NY, LLS has chapters throughout the United States and Canada. To learn more, visit Patients should contact the Information Resource Center at (800) 955-4572, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET.