CLC COMMENDS SENATOR HATCH FOR LEADERSHIP
ON MEDICARE ORAL DRUG COVERAGE
(October 23, 2003)
October 23, 2003
Dear Senator Hatch:
As advocates for people with cancer, the undersigned organizations write to express our appreciation for your interest in, and support of, legislation to make oral cancer drugs immediately available to Medicare beneficiaries. This legislation would provide a transitional benefit making oral cancer drugs available within 90 days of enactment, while the complexities of a new benefit structure will delay implementation of overall drug coverage until the beginning of 2006, at the earliest. Cancer patients will no doubt welcome the accelerated access to these life-saving therapies.
Newly available oral cancer drugs are the vanguard of targeted therapies that address the specific genetic or molecular defect that promotes cancer without damaging healthy cells. They thus offer hope of effective cancer treatment without the terrible side effects that have been associated with chemotherapy. Cancer patients deserve access without delay to these truly revolutionary drugs. In addition, it is long overdue that Medicare beneficiaries have access to tamoxifen and other hormonal agents used to treat breast and prostate cancer.
covers most cancer drugs because they are administered by providers and
reimbursed through a global fee. Medicare also covers oral cancer drugs
if they have an injectable equivalent. Extending coverage to the relatively
few oral cancer drugs not currently covered will rationalize the benefit
structure and eliminate fiscal incentives to choose one form of treatment
over another. When a beneficiary has cancer, the only consideration should
be: what is the best treatment option?
cc: Bruce Artim
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