Panel Approves Bill To Equalize Coverage for Chemotherapy Drugs
On Tuesday, the Assembly Health Committee voted 10-3 to approve SB 161, which would require California health insurers to provide equal coverage for oral and intravenous chemotherapy treatments, the Sacramento Bee reports.
Sen. Roderick Wright (D-South Central Los Angeles) authored the bill, which the Senate approved in June.
Currently, insurance companies classify the pill form of chemotherapy as a pharmaceutical expense rather than a medical expense. Intravenous therapies are covered under the medical benefits of health plans.
The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that cancer patients seeking oral chemotherapy pay an average copayment of 28% of the drug's cost. For example, a patient could pay more than $800 out-of-pocket for a $3,000 monthly regimen of oral chemotherapy drugs.
The California Association of Health Plans opposed the bill, saying that it would compel insurance companies to pay for oral chemotherapy without considering cost or patient safety issues (Lang, Sacramento Bee, 7/8).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.