Letter from Sen. Harsdorf: Legislature passes oral chemotherapy bill
State Legislature Passes Oral Chemotherapy Bill
Legislation to ensure access to oral chemotherapy for cancer patients was a highlight of a busy week in the State Legislature, as both houses work to complete action on legislation before the end of the session. Senate Bill 300 (SB 300), also known as the “Cancer Treatment Fairness Act,” was passed with broad, bipartisan majorities in both the State Senate and the State Assembly this week.
As a cosponsor of SB 300, I was pleased that we were successful in passing this important legislation that will help ensure that cancer patients have access to the treatment that is most effective in fighting their particular cancer. Even as intravenous chemotherapy is the most common chemotherapy treatment option, more than 25% of chemotherapy drugs being developed are administered orally. Additionally, oral chemotherapy can be an alternative for those whose illness has not responded to other treatments and has been shown to improve patients’ quality of life and provide a more convenient and less invasive treatment option. SB 300 will create parity by requiring that insurance policies that provide coverage for intravenous chemotherapy also cover oral chemotherapy. The bill is expected to come before the State Senate for final approval on April 1st and will then go to the Governor for his signature. In other action this week, the State Legislature also passed Senate Bill 648, legislation I authored that provides options to border communities to contract with neighboring counties in another state to hold inmates. Given the limitations of border areas due to geography in collaborating with neighboring counties, this legislation provides additional options to local governments to find cost savings or address overcrowding in local jails by partnering with adjacent counties in another state. This legislation is now before the Governor for his signature. Other proposals given final approval this week by the State Senate and that have been sent to the Governor for his consideration include:
- Assembly Bill 270, which would expand the list of health care and mental health professions that may be covered by the state’s volunteer health provider program. This program encourages health care professionals to volunteer their services at no cost, such as through free clinics, by providing liability coverage through state government.
- Assembly Bill 668 provides an additional $1.5 million in state grant funding for county treatment and diversion programs that have proven successful at providing alternatives to courts in addressing offenders that are dealing with alcohol or drug addictions.
- Assembly Bill 620 strengthens and improves state laws to combat human trafficking, which is a rapidly growing criminal enterprise and a global problem affecting vulnerable children and adults.