FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
State Rep. Tony DeLuca
DeLuca: Health care associated with clinical trials should be covered
HARRISBURG, May 23 – State Rep. Tony DeLuca, D-Allegheny, said his legislation that would require insurance coverage of routine health care services or patient costs associated with cancer clinical trials was reported unanimously (24-0) out of the House Insurance Committee today.
"Currently in Pennsylvania, there may be a financial disincentive for individuals to enter a cancer clinical trial because the health care services normally covered by their insurance providers may not be covered in a clinical trial setting," DeLuca said. "House Bill 508 would classify doctor visits, hospital stays, tests and x-rays as 'routine patient care' and may not be excluded as 'experimental' or 'investigational' because of their connection to a clinical trial."
Twenty-seven states already require coverage for routine health care services associated with cancer clinical trials. Health insurance carriers cover these services in several neighboring states, including New Jersey, Delaware, Ohio, Maryland and West Virginia. A similar provision is contained in the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that will go into effect in January 2014.
"I want to encourage people to participate in clinical trials if they are so inclined, but I understand their reluctance associated with the financial commitment," DeLuca said. "House Bill 508 is a reasonable assignment of costs since the portion of the costs associated with the cancer clinical trial might not be covered by the insurer."
DeLuca said the financial disincentive is unfair given that studies indicate the survival rate for cancer patients, particularly children is higher for those who enter a cancer clinical trial.
"We are making great strides in cancer treatment," DeLuca said. "This legislation is one more tool in our battle against cancer. It just makes sense to enable our constituents to continue treatment that will help save lives."
Similar DeLuca legislation unanimously passed the House last session but was stalled in the Senate.
House Bill 508 would now need to be brought up by the Republican majority for a vote before the full House.