Senate Passes Legislation Aimed at Improving Access to Care for Rhode Islanders

Legislation sponsored by the late Sen. Maryellen Goodwin advances to House for consideration

May 31, 2023

PROVIDENCE – Yesterday evening, the Rhode Island Senate voted in unanimous support of Senate Bill S799. This legislation would ensure Rhode Islanders receive the total value of prescription drug assistance available to them, improving affordable access to care for many with prescription drug needs. S799 was introduced by the late Sen. Maryellen Goodwin, who passed away in April. The bill was then led by Sen. Joshua Miller, chair of the Health and Human Services Committee, who ensured a favorable vote in the Senate.

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. A new insurance industry practice – the use of what have become known as “copay accumulator programs” – allow the enrollee to use copay assistance, but the amount of the support does not count towards the enrollee’s out-of-pocket cost sharing requirements, like their deductible. S799 and H 6159 sponsored by Rep. Mia Ackerman aim to protect prescription affordability and end the use of these copay accumulator programs. 

“Copay adjustment programs put patients and their families in an impossible situation – having to choose between their health and other financial obligations. S799 and H 6159 would ensure fewer Rhode Island cancer patients and others with prescription drug needs face this hurdle,” said Ryan Strik, director of government relations for ACS CAN in Rhode Island.

“A vote in support of this bill is another way for Rhode Island lawmakers to honor the legacy of Sen. Goodwin and advance those issues which were continually important to her,” said Strik. “On behalf of cancer patients and other Rhode Islanders with chronic disease, we urge members of the House to vote in support of this 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

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