News Feature | April 3, 2014

Wisconsin's Upper Chamber Passes Bill On Cancer Drugs

By Marcus Johnson

The state senate in the Wisconsin legislature passed a bill this past Tuesday that would make cancer treatments more affordable for those taking chemotherapy pills. The bill has already passed the Wisconsin Assembly and will now go to Governor Scott Walker, who can sign the bill into law. Walker has already stated that he intends to sign the bill into law.

The oral chemotherapy bill was highly debated throughout the two-year-long session. While cancer support advocates and other bill supporters say that this new bill would enable patients to receive more convenient and affordable oral chemotherapy pills, others are hesitant about the bill. Democrats argue that the way the bill is written leaves too many loopholes open for higher co-insurance charges and deductibles.  

The bill is sponsored by Republicans and requires health insurers to charge the same price for both chemotherapy pills and intravenous treatments. Currently, chemotherapy pills can cost thousands more than intravenous treatments. Opponents of the bill claim that there are still too many loopholes that will allow insurers to charge higher co-payments and higher deductibles in order to make up the difference. The bill's sponsor, Senator Alberta Darling, said that she would work with the state insurance commissioner in order to make sure that co-pays are capped at $100, as stipulated in the bill. Democratic Senator Tim Cullen has a very different idea of how the bill will work for insurers and cancer patients in Wisconsin. “It's a complete giveaway to the health insurance industry and the expense of people who have cancer,” said Cullen.