Rep. David B. McKinley, P.E. (R-W.Va.) has re-introduced bipartisan legislation aimed at helping patients with chronic, disabling and life-threatening conditions. The Patient Access to Treatments Act (H.R. 460), co-sponsored by Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA) and 15 other bipartisan Members, will allow millions of Americans to have access to critical treatments that can save their lives, or improve their quality of life.
"Over the past two years, hearing the stories of patients struggling to pay for medications that would dramatically improve their lives has been heartbreaking," noted Rep. McKinley. "After talking with a number of people in these situations, it was clear action was needed."
Patients with conditions ranging from rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis to lupus and some forms of cancer can benefit from specialty and biologic drugs, but the cost of these drugs prevents access for many Americans.
"Even the President's healthcare plan doesn't cover the cost of these expensive drugs," said McKinley. "The law allows prescription drug co-pays to spiral up to $6,000 out of pocket for an individual and $12,000 for a family. Medicine is not just for the privileged. No one should have to choose between paying their bills and improving their quality of life. "
"Specialty drugs treat patients with chronic and sometimes life threatening illnesses, ranging from arthritis to cancer," said co-sponsor of the bill, Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA). "We owe it to these patients to ensure that insurance companies follow some commonsense rules of the road. Too many patients can't afford the high cost sharing requirements imposed on many specialty drugs, and are forced to not take their medication as prescribed, or worse, not take it all. This leads to increased complications and costs down the road, for the individual, their family, and the entire health care system."
Currently patients who require specialty drugs pay a percentage of the treatments rather than a "fixed rate" as is common with most medicine. This legislation would end the practice of discrimination against specialty drugs by requiring insurers to impose the same co-payment they charge for other medications.
"The American College of Rheumatology (ACR) is encouraged that Reps. McKinley and Capps have re-introduced this important bill and continues to advocate that patients with chronic illnesses should have access to live-saving treatments," says Audrey Uknis, M.D., President, ACR.
"We thank Representative McKinley for his leadership in helping to level the playing field for patients by providing equal access to innovative and standard therapies alike," said Nancy Davenport-Ennis, CEO and President of the National Patient Advocate Foundation.
"Millions of Americans suffer from chronic and disabling diseases and are unable to afford critical treatments to relieve their pain and prolong their lives," said McKinley. "Congress can and should help them."