CANCER TRIALS: Other HMOs May Follow New Jersey Lead
Connecticut HMO officials may follow the lead of 10 New Jersey HMOs by expanding coverage to include health care costs associated with early stage clinical trials for cancer patients, the Hartford Courant reports. In an effort to attract more patients to research trials, the Garden State insurers announced yesterday that they would cover "routine health care costs of patients enrolled in approved trials of experimental cancer drugs and treatments." Calling the New Jersey agreement "an interesting approach," Keith Stover of the Connecticut Association of HMOs said that Connecticut HMO executives plan to "take a look" at the idea. One insurer, Oxford Health Plans, which has operations in New Jersey, Connecticut and New York, already has said it will enact the policy in all three states. "It puts patients into trials that will result in data that will direct the appropriate treatment for cancer," Dr. Alan Muney, chief medical officer at Oxford, stated. Connecticut law currently mandates only that HMOs clearly spell out their experimental treatment coverage policies in their health plans (Julien, Hartford Courant, 12/17). USA Today reports that the New Jersey move could inspire "similar action nationwide." Joe Carver of Aetna, a member of the New Jersey coalition, said, "I hope that this starts a groundswell that extends to 49 other states and ultimately to diseases beyond cancer" (Appleby, 12/17).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.