Senate & House Leaders to Hear Legislation Aimed at Improving Access to Care

Rhode Island lawmakers have taken the first step towards improving prescription drug affordability for cancer patients and others with chronic diseases.

March 19, 2024

PROVIDENCE, RI – March 18, 2024 – This afternoon, Rhode Island lawmakers will hear legislation filed by Dep. House Majority Whip Mia A. Ackerman (D - HD 45, Cumberland, Lincoln) and Senator Robert Britto (D – SD 18, East Providence, Pawtucket) (H8041 / S2720) that would restrict the use of co-pay accumulator adjustment programs and ensure Rhode Islanders receive the total value of prescription drug assistance to afford their treatments, improving access to care for cancer patients and others with chronic disease.

Statement from Dep. House Majority Whip Mia A. Ackerman:

"Families battling cancer and other chronic diseases have enough to deal with. They should not also be overwhelmed by high medical bills. Harmful programs like co-pay accumulators  put cancer patients in the difficult spot of having to choose between their health and paying their bills. This legislation would help relieve some financial pressure so patients can focus on their recovery. I am proud to reintroduce this legislation to ensure Rhode Islanders get the help they need to afford their medications.”

Statement from Senator Robert Britto:

The rising costs of health care are not sustainable for our state’s working families, and this important legislation will help address that by ensuring savings from pharmaceutical coupons go into the pockets of Rhode Islanders – not insurance companies, pharmacy benefit managers, or other third-parties. I am deeply grateful to be sponsoring this bill as part of the Rhode Island HEALTH Initiative, which is such a significant step toward addressing the major challenges surrounding our health care system

Statement from Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio:

“I am honored to co-sponsor this important legislation, which the late Maryellen Goodwin championed and the Senate approved in 2023. Maryellen was a dear friend and a powerful advocate for the most vulnerable members of our communities, and it is humbling to take up this important cause on her behalf. No one facing cancer or serious illness should be without access to essential prescriptions because of financial barriers. This legislation will help ensure that all Rhode Islanders can afford the medications they need, and also receive the full intended benefits of the financial assistance available to them.”

Statement from American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) Rhode Island Government Relations Director Ryan Strik:

“Many cancer patients and individuals living with chronic medical conditions have difficulty affording the cost of their prescription drugs. This is especially true for newer drugs – including cancer drugs – that do not yet have a generic equivalent. To help temper high prescription costs, many of these individuals receive copay assistance offered through manufacturer programs and charitable patient assistance programs.

“Unfortunately for many, this copay assistance is increasingly not treated the same as copays that are paid with cash and therefore not applied to the patient’s deductible and out-of-pocket financial responsibilities. This means patients using these copay assistance programs are still responsible for the entire deductible and out-of-pocket maximums as the assistance is not benefitting them in the intended way.  

“The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network thanks House Majority Whip Ackerman and Senator Britto for sponsoring this critical step in improving access to prescription drugs for individuals with cancer and other illnesses. We also thank Senate President Dominick Ruggerio, Senate Majority Leader Ryan Pearson, and Senate HHS Chair Joshua Miller for their commitment as legislative co-sponsors. ACS CAN looks forward to working with the rest of the General Assembly to pass this critical legislation.”





About ACS CAN:

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) makes cancer a top priority for policymakers at every level of government. ACS CAN empowers volunteers across the country to make their voices heard to influence evidence-based public policy change that improves the lives of people with cancer and their families. We believe everyone should have a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer. Since 2001, as the American Cancer Society’s nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate, ACS CAN has successfully advocated for billions of dollars in cancer research funding, expanded access to quality affordable health care, and advanced proven tobacco control measures. We’re more determined than ever to stand together with our volunteers to end cancer as we know it, for everyone. Join the fight by visiting