Music and NPR News for Central and Northern Michigan
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Bill would make cancer treatment pills more affordable

Patrick Talbert

The Michigan Senate overwhelmingly passed a bill this week requiring equal coverage for chemotherapy, whether it’s administered by pills or IV

Supporters of the bill say the two treatments can have vastly different costs to patients. IV treatments are typically covered under the copay for a doctor's visit. Pills often fall under prescription coverage and can cost thousands of dollars a month.

Republican State Senator Geoff Hansen is the bill sponsor. He said the decision to use pills or IV is made by a doctor. The patient does not have the option to chose a cheaper medicine.

“It’s not a choice for the patient whether they want oral or IV, it’s which is best for them. The problem being if they can’t afford it than a lot of them won’t pick it up and get it and so then they won’t get the treatment that they deserve.”

Senator Hansen said the type of treatment depends on the cancer.

“With oral if he gives you oral, which several cancers oral is the only thing that works, then it’s a pharmacy benefit. A lot of people have a pharmacy benefit that can be really expensive. When you go to the pharmacy to pick up your pills you have to pay for them right then and it can be four, five thousand dollars.”

Hansen said he wants to make sure people have access to treatment.

“Of the medications that are coming out right now 20-30% of the cancer drugs are going to be in the pill form. We want to make sure people are going to be able to afford what their doctor prescribes them.”

Senator Hansen said Senator Hansen says his bill would limit the co-pays at roughly one hundred dollars.

He said a similar bill failed to pass the house last year but he is hopeful the new measure will pass.