On Tuesday, May 8, the National Brain Tumor Society and Accelerate Brain Cancer Cure rallied staff, family members, patients and advocates to urge Members of Congress to increase funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and support the Cancer Drug Coverage Parity Act (HR 2746). Advocates in Washington, DC conducted meetings with 95 Congressional offices. At the same time, advocates in states from California to New Jersey called into the offices of their Members of Congress from home to echo their message.
“An increasing number of brain tumor patients are reporting higher co-pays or co-insurance costs to access temozolomide, an oral chemotherapy medicine. Oral temozolomide is often part of the standard of care and is one of the few options – patients must have access to this medicine to stay alive,” said Paul TonThat, Executive Director, National Brain Tumor Society. “It’s unacceptable for obstacles in health insurance to exist which deter or prevent patients from accessing brain cancer medication,” concluded TonThat. The Cancer Drug Coverage Parity Act would require health insurance plans that already cover oral, IV and injectable chemotherapy to cover oral chemotherapy on an equal out-of-pocket cost basis as traditional IV and injectable chemotherapy.
Max Wallace, Chief Executive Officer, Accelerate Brain Cancer Cure addressed the need to increase funding for the National Institutes of Health by stating “Congress should really step up its support of NIH research, as funding is critical to accelerating discovery which can lead to new treatments for brain tumor patients. Science is developing so rapidly that any cuts can set back research progress by many years.”
During Head to the Hill 2012, brain tumor advocates told their stories, putting real faces to the issues. BethAnn Telford, a brain tumor survivor said it best “We have to do better as a country to help patients survive and to find cures. Congress should do its part by ensuring access to oral chemotherapy and increased funding for the NIH.”