The Iowa House of Representatives has approved a bill to forbid insurance companies from cutting coverage for customers who have cancer and are participating in a clinical trial.
Representative Tyler Olson, a Democrat from Cedar Rapids, says some cancer patients who’ve signed up for a clinical trial found their insurance company refused to cover routine care.
“The bill…is important for two reasons. One, we make sure that there aren’t any barriers for folks being treated for cancer, to hopefully have that chance to find a clinical treatment or an experimental treatment that allows them to have a higher quality of life or potentially live longer,” Olson says. “And secondly, we all benefit from the research that is done through these clinical trials.”
Representative Doug Struyk, a Republican from Council Bluffs, called the bill a good compromise. “Not everybody gets everything they want,” Struyk said during House debate, “but in the end, we have a bill that does exactly what Iowans need.”
The House passed the bill on a 96-0 vote. It now goes to the Senate for consideration.
Supporters of the bill say it may boost participation in clinical trials for cancer drugs. The bill does not require insurance companies to cover the costs of the experimental drugs, but it would force insurers to pay for other routine care, like visits to the doctor, that would have been covered if the drugs the patient is taking weren’t experimental. The Iowa Medical Society and the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation are among the groups that favor the bill. But as of 7:30 Monday night the bill was still opposed by a variety of groups, including the Iowa Grocery Industry Association and the Federation of Iowa Insurers.