One of the most important pieces of legislation that should become law during Florida’s 2013 Legislative Session is The Cancer Treatment Fairness Act. This proposed legislation asks health plans to equalize patient out-of-pocket expenses for IV- and orally-administered cancer treatment, to ensure that patients are not financially disadvantaged when they are prescribed orally-administered medication.
Under some insurance plans, cancer patients who receive their medication orally will face out-of-pocket costs ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars per month, even if that particular medication is the only treatment available. However, patients who receive their cancer treatment intravenously are typically responsible for covering only the cost of an office visit co-pay, usually $20 or $30 dollars per visit. This disparity exists because coverage for an IV-administered medication is usually provided under a plan's medical benefit, whereas orally-administered medications are typically covered by a plan's pharmacy benefit.
I work with a number of advocate organizations such as Susan G. Komen for the Cure, and hold the position of Florida Suncoast advocacy chair for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Through this work, I hear countless stories of cancer patients in the Tampa Bay area who can’t afford the out-of-pocket costs for their orally-administered cancer medications. Some of these folks live in rural areas and are not able to travel to a clinical setting to receive IV-administered medication, so orally-administered medication is their only viable option. Others take their medication orally because it is the only treatment that provides them with a chance of survival, but they incur thousands and thousands of dollars in debt as a result. Many of these patients will never be able to pay the debt in full.
I urge Florida’s legislature to pass The Cancer Treatment Fairness Act because Florida needs to ensure that all cancer patients have fair access to the cancer care they need to survive.