A measure sponsored by Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle to aid in the treatment of cancer by ensuring that patients have access to less cumbersome oral medications was advanced by an Assembly panel on Monday.
The bill (A-2666) would require health insurance carriers to provide coverage for expenses for prescribed, orally administered anticancer medications used to kill or slow the growth of cancerous cells under the same terms and conditions as the policy or contract provides for intravenously administered or injected cancer medications.
“This bill would make oral cancer drugs more affordable and reduce the average number of visits to the doctor for cancer patients,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). “People have insurance for a reason. Access to the best forms of treatment shouldn’t be reserved for only the wealthiest folks who can afford to pay out of pocket. This is about providing a better quality of life for those afflicted with cancer.”
Vainieri Huttle noted that oral cancers drugs have experienced a recent increase in popularity. Today, about 25 percent of cancer drugs can be administered orally and without the assistance of medical professionals. However, oral cancer drugs are generally more expensive than those administered intravenously.
The bill also requires the State Health Benefits Program (SHBP) and the School Employees’ Health Benefits Program (SEHBP) to provide coverage for expenses for medically necessary medications, such as medications that maintain red or white cell counts and treat nausea, that support the orally administered anticancer medications, under the same terms and conditions as the policy or contract provides for intravenously administered or injected cancer medications.
The coverage requirement would apply to hospital, medical and health service corporations, individual, small employer, and larger group commercial insurers, and health maintenance organizations, SHBP, and SEHBP.
The bill was released by the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee. It would take effect on the 180th day after enactment and shall apply to all contracts and policies issued on or after the effective date.