TO ENTIRE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES (SECOND SESSION)
The Honorable __________
Dear Representative __________ :
The undersigned organizations, representing cancer patients, providers and researchers, strongly support the Access to Cancer Therapies Act (H.R. 1624) and urge its passage during this session of Congress. This legislation, which would expand Medicare coverage to all oral cancer drugs, is necessary if quality cancer care is to be maintained for beneficiaries. At present, most cancer drug therapy is covered by Medicare because the drugs are administered through injection by providers. Increasingly, however, cancer treatment will be shifting from provider administration of injectable drugs to new oral drugs that can be administered in the convenience of the patient's home. These new oral drugs are not only less toxic than current treatments but also more effective and possibly more cost-effective as well. But these advances will give senior citizens no benefit if they are not accessible because of shortfalls in Medicare coverage.
Last year saw the
approval of a new oral drug for chronic myelogenous leukemia that has
greatly improved quality of life and disease control for patients with
this rare but deadly blood cancer, and this year the same drug has been
approved for a gastrointestinal cancer that had been virtually untreatable.
Approval of a new oral drug representing a significant treatment advance
for lung cancer is also expected this year. In the near future these new
products will be available to treat breast, colon, pancreas and prostate
cancers as well. None of these life-extending drugs will be covered by
Medicare absent legislation, and existing important drugs like tamoxifen
for breast cancer will continue to remain not covered.
Apparently the only opposition to H.R. 1624 and its Senate counterpart S.913 (which has more than 30 co-sponsors) comes from those who are awaiting a comprehensive benefit. Even if it were enacted this year, however, its implementation would not be felt for years. Rather than waiting for the opportunity to provide a comprehensive and complete solution, we believe the Congress should take a meaningful, constructive and immediate step toward that goal by enacting H.R.1624.
If you have already
joined as a co-sponsor, we thank you, and, if you have not, we urge you
to do so without further delay. This legislation is much needed by beneficiaries
with cancer, and your help will be much appreciated.
© 2001-2002 Cancer Leadership Council. All rights reserved.