CANCER TREATMENT: Gore Promises Funds, Expanded Screening
In advance of his speech on cancer scheduled later this week, Vice President Al Gore this weekend outlined some new proposals, including a provision requiring private health plans to cover experimental cancer treatments and a plan to expand Medicare coverage for cancer screening. Speaking with ABC's "This Week" correspondent Cokie Roberts, Gore said: "If somebody has cancer and they're covered by insurance and there is a clinical trial going on that the doctors believe is appropriate for that patient, it ought to be covered." When questioned about covering breast cancer screening for Medicare beneficiaries, Gore said, "Not only should we cover them ... we should also eliminate the co-payment for the prevention tests so as to encourage all of the people who can get these tests done." Gore promised that, as president, he would call for the doubling of funding for cancer research ("This Week" transcript, 5/28). Gore has endorsed a provision in the House-passed patients' bill of rights that calls on insurers to pay for cancer patients who participate in clinical trials.
Leave the Genes Alone!
Gore also said he would back legislation prohibiting businesses and health plans from using genetic testing to discriminate against workers. While the administration earlier this year banned federal agencies from using genetic testing against employees, Gore wants to extend the ban to private businesses. He said, "Unless we pass these protections, then there are going to be an awful lot of people who will not go and get the test done" (AP/Dallas Morning News, 5/29).