Moran introduces bipartisan Cancer Drug Parity Act

Bipartisan legislation recently offered by U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS) would prevent insurers from charging cancer patients higher copayments for oral medications than for chemotherapy medicine delivered intravenously.

“Access to new treatments, therapies, and cures will help save lives,” said Sen. Moran.

The Cancer Drug Parity Act, S. 2039, which Sen. Moran signed on to as the lead original cosponsor alongside bill sponsor U.S. Sen. Tina Smith (D-MN), would amend the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) of 1974 to require a group health plan, or health insurance coverage offered in connection with such a plan, to allow cost-sharing for oral anti-cancer drugs on terms no less favorable than the cost-sharing provided for anti-cancer medications administered by a healthcare provider, according to the congressional record bill summary.

“As the number of orally administered cancer drugs increases each year, patients ought to be able to immediately benefit from these medical advancements,” Sen. Moran said on June 16. “This sensible legislation would encourage ERISA health insurance plans to remain on pace with the latest cancer treatments and expand access to orally administered cancer drugs for millions of individuals.”

If enacted, S. 2039 would expand oral parity protections to privately insured patients whose health care is regulated at the federal level; prevent insurers from covering oral and self-administered medicines at different cost-sharing rates than IV chemotherapy; and implement these requirements for health plans that already cover both oral and IV chemotherapy treatments, according to a bill summary provided by Sen. Moran’s office.

“Oral medications are less intrusive than traditional IV treatments, can be taken at home, and have turned cancer into a manageable chronic disease for many,” said Sen. Smith. “But while IV treatments are covered by a health plan’s medical benefits – with moderate to minimal copays – oral medications often have high, unaffordable copays. Our bill brings parity to these two kinds of treatments and lowers costs for those taking oral cancer drugs.”

Among the 13 other original cosponsors who joined Sen. Moran in introducing the bill were U.S. Sens. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and Roger Wicker (R-MS).

The bill has garnered support from several organizations, universities, and healthcare providers, including the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the American Society of Clinical Oncology, CancerCare, Fight Colorectal Cancer, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, the National Brain Tumor Society, Susan G. Komen, The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Institute, and West Virginia Medicine, among others.