Governor Culver has signed legislation backed by doctors and cancer survivors who believe it will encourage more Iowans to participate in clinical trials. The new law requires state regulated insurance policies to continue covering routine medical care for patients who agree to try experimental medications.
Doctor Richard Deming, medical director of Mercy Cancer Center in Des Moines, says even though many clinical trials are privately funded, patients are afraid to enroll for fear of being dropped by their insurance carrier.
“Cancer is still the number one killer of Iowans and the only way we can make improvements in cancer treatment is doing cancer clinical trials, but millions of cancer patients are afraid, especially nowadays, to do something that may cause them to lose healthcare coverage,” Deming said. While most Iowans are covered under federally regulated insurance plans, supporters of the bill say it still sends an important message to cancer patients.
“Most patients are not fearful of the actual treatment, they are very fearful of what the consequences might be if they were to lose coverage,” Deming said. Healthcare advocacy groups have been pushing for the legislation for three years. Deming says the new law does not require insurance carriers to cover the cost of the clinical trial itself – only the routine medical care the patient needs.