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Weinberg-Gill Measure To Guarantee Insurance Coverage For Oral Cancer Drugs Heads To Governor

A view of the Senate Chambers from the 2010-2011 Senate Reorganization.

Measure Would Require that Oral Cancer Drugs Are Covered on Similar Basis to Intravenous Cancer Drugs

TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senators Loretta Weinberg and Nia H. Gill which would require that all health insurers in New Jersey cover orally-administered cancer medications under similar terms and conditions used in the coverage of intravenous or injected cancer drugs received final approval in the General Assembly today and now heads to the Governor’s desk.

“Medical research over the past decade has provided cancer patients with alternatives to the traditional intravenous and injected cancer drugs. New, orally-administered drugs have shown to cause fewer or reduced side effects typically associated with cancer medications,” said Senator Weinberg (D-Bergen), Chairwoman of the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee. “It is imperative that we update our laws to stay current with advances in medical research and treatments to ensure that these drugs are covered equally and as affordably as other cancer treatment options to provide relief to cancer patients throughout New Jersey.”

The bill (S-1834) would require health insurers to provide insurance coverage for prescribed, orally-administered cancer medications on a basis which is no less favorable than the policy or contract provides for injected anticancer medications. Under the bill, insurers would be prohibited from subjecting the coverage of oral cancer medication to any prior authorization stipulations, dollar limits, copayments, deductibles or coinsurance standards that do not apply to intravenously-administered or injected cancer drugs. The bill would also prohibit insurers from imposing new barriers on injected anticancer drugs in order to comply with the provisions of this bill.

“For people suffering from cancer, sometimes the prescribed course of treatment can be just as painful as the disease. Fortunately, medical research is developing better cancer treatments that limit the harsh side effects that are traditionally associated with chemotherapy and radiation therapy,” said Senator Gill (D-Essex and Passaic), Chairwoman of the Commerce Committee. “Now we must update the law so that these new drugs are covered by insurance companies similarly to the intravenous cancer drugs, so that the patient and doctor can determine which course of treatment is best for them based on medicine rather than on the cost of the drugs.”

The bill passed the General Assembly by a vote of 68-2-5. It passed the Senate last month with a vote of 37-2.

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