The Association for Clinical Oncology (ASCO) recently held a briefing on Capitol Hill to inform policymakers and other stakeholders about the need for the bipartisan CLINICAL TREATMENT Act (H.R. 913). The bill would guarantee coverage of the routine care costs for Medicaid enrollees with life-threatening conditions participating in clinical trials, and help ensure all patients have access to high-quality, high-value cancer care.
Chair-elect of ASCO’s Government Relations Committee, Carolyn Hendricks, MD, FASCO, opened the briefing by explaining how essential clinical trials are to cancer care. “Over my 25-year career, essentially all of the cancer treatments that I offer patients now come from the results of high-quality clinical trials in breast cancer.”
The briefing featured remarks from the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Ben Ray Luján (NM-3), about how Medicaid patients who enroll in a clinical trial lose access to coverage for routine care costs (like physician visits and laboratory tests that would have been covered otherwise). “This hurts not only the patients who are being denied access to the best treatment available, but also the quality of the clinical trials themselves. We need them to be diverse… because the more people we have [participating in trials], the better results we’re going to get.”
Brittany McKelvey, a childhood cancer survivor and patient research advocate with the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), also spoke to attendees about her personal experience with cancer and why she’s so passionate about clinical trials. “I know as a cancer survivor that the clinical trials that were completed helped me to be alive here, alive today, and to have the best treatment possible. And I know, as a researcher, the great need for more trials to discover and test more life-saving treatments.”
ASCO is leading a coalition of more than 106 organizations to urge Congress to include the bill in the upcoming ‘must pass’ healthcare extenders package, which is expected to be voted into law this spring.
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