Committee approves Ward’s protections for cancer patients

HARRISBURG — The Senate Banking and Insurance Committee has approved protections that would ensure that Stage IV metastatic cancer patients have access to medications and treatments prescribed by their doctor, according to the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Judy Ward, R-Hollidaysburg.

In current practice, insurance companies may limit coverage for prescriptions or require patients to try other insurance-mandated treatments before covering advanced treatments prescribed by a doctor.

Senate Bill 66 — the Fair Access to Cancer Treatment Act — would prohibit insurance companies from excluding or limiting drugs for patients if the drugs are FDA approved and consistent with best practices for Stage IV metastatic cancer treatment.

“The health care needs of Stage IV cancer patients are extremely urgent, and any delay in treatment could have terrible consequences,” Ward said.

Eight other states already have enacted similar laws to protect cancer patients.

The bill is supported by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, International Cancer Ad­vocacy Network, Prostate Health Education Network, Pennsylvania Prostate Can­cer Coalition, Community Oncology Alliance, Pennsyl­vania Society of Oncology & Hematology, National Or­gani­­zation for Rare Dis­orders, American Society of Clinical Oncology, Pennsyl­vania Society of Gas­troenterology, Susan G. Komen For the Cure North­eastern Pennsylvania, Male­care: Men Fighting Cancer Together, LUNGevity and the Pennsylvania Medical Society.

Senate Bill 66 was sent to the full Senate for consideration.

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