TO ALL MEDICARE REFORM CONFEREES
The undersigned organizations, representing cancer survivors, their caregivers, and researchers, would like to urge the conferees to include in the Medicare prescription drug bill a transition provision that would ensure cancer patients access to life-saving cancer therapies at the first available opportunity.
In their deliberations on the Medicare prescription drug bill, both the House and Senate acknowledged the need for transitional coverage for certain drugs from January 2004 until the comprehensive prescription drug benefit becomes effective in January 2006. The House addressed this issue with a demonstration project of limited geographic reach, and the Senate included a two-year transition benefit that covers only one category of drugs.
Instead of these limited provisions, the Conference Committee has the opportunity to craft a transition benefit that will make a significant difference in the lives of cancer patients, who are disproportionately represented among Medicare beneficiaries. For a cost of about one-tenth of one percent of the cost of the overall drug benefit, or only $400 million, two-year transitional coverage of oral cancer drugs could be a reality. The Medicare program already covers those oral cancer drugs that have an injectable equivalent, and this transitional benefit logically extends coverage to those oral drugs that are available only in that form and have no injectable equivalent.
This group of cancer drugs includes new targeted therapies, drugs that prevent cancer recurrence, and other lifesaving therapies. For a very modest cost, Congress can:
We urge you to include a two-year transitional benefit for oral cancer drugs. We understand that, upon the implementation of the prescription drug benefit in 2006, this transitional benefit would terminate. For this very limited commitment of federal resources, the Conference Committee can immediately expand treatment options for beneficiaries with cancer.
Alliance for Lung
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