ABC News 12: Cancer survivors and health care advocates rally for oral chemo coverage

April 25, 2018

ABC News 12


LANSING, Mich. (WJRT) - (04/25/18) - A group of health care advocates are trying to align Michigan's policies with more than 43 other states.

Those other states provide equal health insurance coverage of chemotherapy, whether it's taken by needle or by mouth.

They took a direct approach, reaching out face to face to members of the Michigan House of Representatives.

"I am a bone cancer survivor and melanoma survivor. I was diagnosed in college and I also lost my father to multiple myeloma a few years ago, so it's really passionate to see the difference we can make when we all come together and we have a voice," said Heather Hall of the American Cancer Society Action Network.

American Cancer Society volunteers from across the state took over the Capitol building Wednesday.

They're speaking up for the oral chemotherapy bill, which was approved by the Senate last October (2017), but has died in the house multiple times.

The advocates met with their individual representatives hoping to persuade them.

They say about 30% of new chemo drugs are oral and provide better quality of life for patients.

They believe the medicine should be covered like other chemo drugs.

The bill remains in the insurance committee in the House.

"In the state of Michigan oral chemotherapy is not covered by insurance, so we have a lot of patients that are spending $10,000 to $18,000 a month to pay for their oral chemotherapy," said Marianne Essing, an American Cancer Society volunteer.

The group also asked lawmakers for $100,000 to extend its tobacco prevention program and quit line.

They say about 25-percent of people who call the quit line stop smoking.

$60,000 of the $100,000 would be used for the telephone service,and the other $40,000 would help fund pilot projects for quitting to help under-served communities.