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Maryland's Cancer Care Community, Patient Advocates Urge State Legislature to Create Parity in Coverage for Preferred Cancer Drugs
Date:2/6/2012

ANNAPOLIS, Md., Feb. 3, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Citing the significant quality of life benefits that oral chemotherapy drugs can provide over intravenously (IV) administered chemotherapy, Maryland's cancer community, patient advocacy representatives and patients themselves called on the state legislature this week to pass key legislation that would ensure Maryland's cancer patients are able to access their prescribed chemotherapy regimen of choice.

IV chemotherapy can lead to side effects including pain, hair loss, nausea, vomiting, and anemia, and can lead to added costs and logistical issues as patients must travel to cancer care facilities for treatment. Although oral chemotherapy drugs taken at home often result in fewer side effects, many health insurance plans' coverage of orally administered chemotherapy is prohibitive due to higher copays, expensive deductibles or restrictive coverage limits.

"Oral chemotherapy drugs can often provide substantially greater comfort and convenience than IV administered chemotherapy, and Maryland's cancer patients should have access to the treatments they prefer," said Nancy Davenport-Ennis, founder and CEO of the National Patient Advocate Foundation (NPAF) and the Patient Advocate Foundation (PAF). "We urge Maryland's legislature to create parity in coverage and help individuals fighting cancer access the chemotherapy treatment of their choice without cost being an unrealistic barrier."

The Kathleen A. Mathias Chemotherapy Parity Act of 2012 (Senate Bill 179) would prohibit insurers, nonprofit health service plans, and health maintenance organizations (HMOs) from covering orally administered cancer chemotherapy on terms that are less favorable than coverage for IV administered cancer chemotherapy. The bill is named in honor of the late Kathy Mathias, wife of Sen. Jim Mathias (D-38), who lost her 14-year battle with cancer last August. The legislation currently has 26 cosponsor
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SOURCE National Patient Advocate Foundation
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