Davis Signs Law Requiring Insurers to Pay for Clinical Trials for Cancer Patients
Gov. Gray Davis (D) yesterday signed into a law a measure requiring health plans to pay for "routine treatment costs" for patients in clinical cancer trials, the Los Angeles Times reports. Davis' approval makes California the 14th state to adopt such legislation; Davis vetoed a "weaker" bill last year that would have required health plans to pay for prostate cancer trials only. Davis said the law will make "potentially lifesaving treatment" more readily available, and advocates for cancer patients "hope" it will increase the current 2%-3% of cancer patients enrolled in clinical trials (Ornstein, Los Angeles Times, 8/10). To comply with the new law, insurers must pay for doctor visits, lab tests, hospitalizations, the price of drugs and "other routine services" associated with cancer patients' participation in clinical trials. According to the AP/Nando Times, the legislation will mean a "modest cost" increase for insurers. Walter Zelman, president of the California Association of Health Plans, estimated the cost to be less than 1% of the state's yearly managed care premium of $25 billion. And according to the American Cancer Society, the measure "should prompt" 3,390 Californians to take part in clinical trials (Tong, AP/Nando Times, 8/9). The San Francisco Chronicle calls the measure, carried by state Sen. Jackie Speier (D), "the strongest legislation of its kind in the country" (Gledhill, San Francisco Chronicle, 8/10).
Davis also signed a separate bill yesterday covering several health-related issues. One provision of the bill will extend treatment for breast and cervical cancer through Medi-Cal "for as long as necessary"; existing state programs for breast cancer patients are limited to 18 months. The bill also sets aside $820 million to expand Healthy Families enrollment, invests $25 million in trauma centers and $5 million more for trauma care planning, spends $14 million for increased salaries for nursing home workers and establishes a fund for health-related programs with $402 million from the national tobacco settlement (Los Angeles Times, 8/10).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.