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U.S. Senate Introduces Cancer Drug Parity Act

Washington, DC (December 12, 2018) – The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) is proud to support the Cancer Drug Parity Act, which will ensure equality of insurance coverage for all cancer treatments, regardless of how these treatments are administered. This bipartisan legislation was introduced today 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.). The Cancer Drug Parity Act was previously introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives with LLS’s support in March 2017 by Representative Leonard Lance (R-N.J.) and Representative Brian Higgins (D-N.Y.).

“For decades, LLS has been at the forefront of the fight to cure cancer by investing in research that has led to breakthroughs in immunotherapy, genomics and personalized medicine,” said Louis J. DeGennaro, Ph.D., LLS president and CEO. “Despite these exciting advances, many cancer patients face burdensome out-of-pocket costs for some drugs and cannot access their treatments because insurance benefit design has not kept pace with innovation.”

In recent years, innovation in precision medicine has transformed the landscape of cancer care, paving the way for more cancer treatments that are administered by patients themselves, including oral therapies. Traditional IV-administered cancer treatments are typically covered under a health plan’s medical benefit, often requiring patients to pay a moderate copay. However, oral and other self-administered treatments are usually covered under a health plan’s pharmacy benefit. 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 medicine.

Patients who rely on an oral drug to fight their cancer can face hundreds or thousands of dollars more in cost-sharing than patients who take an IV drug. Over the past decade, 43 states have stepped forward to address this issue in a bipartisan manner by passing legislation to prevent health plans from applying different cost-sharing to oral and self-administered medicines. However, these state laws only provide protection to patients with state-regulated insurance plans. The Cancer Drug Parity Act applies these same protections to the 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.

“The Cancer Drug Parity Act will eliminate a key financial barrier that prevents many cancer patients from accessing breakthrough treatments that could save their lives,” said DeGennaro. “LLS applauds Senator Smith and Senator Moran for their leadership on behalf of cancer patients and stands 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.

Media Contact:

Andrea Greif