Senate Passes Tomlinson Bill Offering Cancer Patients Greater Access to Oral Chemotherapy Drugs

The Senate has approved legislation sponsored by Senator Tommy Tomlinson (R-Bucks) that would enable cancer patients to select their best treatment option, including oral chemotherapy.

Tomlinson said Senate Bill 536, which received unanimous approval would ensure that treatment options for patients are not limited on the basis of how the therapy is administered.

His bill would require health insurers to provide coverage for orally administered chemotherapy on a basis that is at least as favorable as an insured’s co-pay; coinsurance or deductibles are for intravenous or injected chemotherapy treatment.

“For years, the mainstay of cancer treatment has been intravenous chemotherapy, which is typically covered as part of an insured’s medical benefits,” Tomlinson said.   “However, as the science of treating cancer has progressed, oral chemotherapy has emerged as an alternative treatment option for patients.”

He noted that because oral chemotherapy is typically covered as part of the prescription drug benefit, patients who choose this option in consultation with their doctor often experience significantly different out of pocket costs based on how their treatment is administered.

“In short, this legislation makes oral cancer drugs more affordable and accessible to patients,” Tomlinson said. “This is important as we help cancer patients to better manage their care.”

He added that 39 states and the District of Columbia have passed these critical laws to increase access to oral oncology drugs that are crucial to patient survival.

Senate Bill 536 now goes to the House for its consideration.

CONTACT: Jennifer Smeltz (717) 787-5072