LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) – Governor Scott Walker signed a new bill into law in Milwaukee on Thursday to help reduce the cost of cancer treatment for patients, providing a better way for patients to better control their expenses.
Patients sometimes have to pay up to $10,000 per month for chemotherapy pills, and the new legislation will require health insurers to charge the same price for these pills, which can be taken at home, as for intravenous (IV) treatments, which are administered at hospitals.
Gundersen Health System Oncologist Roger Kwong said the new bill is a “step forward”, as it is more affordable for patients. Kwong said the bill will certainly help people, but there are some issues which need to be resolved moving forward.
“We need to know, is it by medication? Is it by prescription, where they are getting two different prescriptions for different sizes of the medication? These are details we’ll still have to see how it is implemented,” Kwong said.
Gundersen Health System patient Gary Galema has bone marrow cancer, and he has been receiving chemotherapy for nearly ten years. Gary’s wife, Karen, said she knows how important the new bill is for Gary and other cancer patients.
“We’re happy that they are taking us into consideration, people like us who are on fixed incomes, and that will benefit us. It’s a very important bill,” Karen Galema said.
Chemotherapy drugs given at a hospital are usually covered by medical insurance, while drugs taken in pill form are covered under prescription drug plans that often cost the patient more. Patients would still be subject to up to $100 per month charge for chemotherapy to treat cancer.
The new law will be effective as of January 2015.
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