The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) today applauded
patient protection legislation passed in the House that would
provide much-needed improvements in cancer patients’ access to
high-quality care and treatment, including therapies offered in
clinical trials. The Bipartisan Consensus Managed Care Improvement
Act (H.R. 2723), introduced by Reps. Charlie Norwood (R-GA) and John
Dingell (D-MI), passed yesterday by a 275-151 vote.
"This bill addresses a serious gap in existing insurance
coverage. By guaranteeing cancer patients coverage of routine
patient care costs in clinical trials, it will improve access to
state-of-the-art cancer care," said ASCO President Joseph S. Bailes,
MD. "Representatives Norwood and Dingell, as well as Representative
Brian Bilbray [R-CA], deserve praise for their bipartisan commitment
to improving cancer care and research and to passing a strong
patient protection bill."
ASCO and the cancer community fully support three provisions
included in the patient protection bill:
- Coverage for patient participation in clinical trials –
The bill guarantees coverage of routine patient care costs for
patients enrolled in all clinical trials sponsored by the National
Institutes of Health, the Veterans Administration, and the
Department of Defense. FDA-sponsored trials are not covered in the
legislation although ASCO supports efforts to extend this
provision to FDA-sponsored trials during upcoming conference
negotiations on the bill with the Senate.
- Access to specialty care – The bill provides cancer
patients direct access to oncologists, allowing these specialists
to serve as primary care physicians for their patients.
- Continuity of care – The bill allows patients to
remain with their current physician for a specified period if
their insurance provider discontinues coverage of that physician.
Currently, cancer patients’ treatment can be interrupted and
seriously jeopardized if their oncologist is dropped from their
ASCO also appreciates the efforts by Representatives Rick Lazio
(R-NY) and Matt Salmon (R-AZ) to help raise awareness of the
importance of clinical trials coverage.
The American Society of Clinical Oncology represents 13,000
physicians who specialize in cancer treatment and clinical research.
ASCO's members set the standard for patient care worldwide, and lead
the fight for more effective cancer treatments, increased funding
for clinical and translational research, and, ultimately, cures for
the myriad different cancers which strike 1.2 million Americans
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