Assembly Republicans Pass Amended Chemotherapy Bill

Change That Would Allow Copays For Chemotherapy Pills Seems To Have Support Of Cancer Patient Advocates

The state Assembly has an ambitious calender of bills to consider on Thursday. Photo: Team Frosick (CC-BY-NC)

Update – Friday, 2:08 a.m.: The Assembly passed the bill in a 75-18 vote.

Assembly Republicans have announced they will amend a bill aimed at helping cancer patients afford chemotherapy. The change appears to have groups that advocate for cancer patients onboard.

The bill that passed the Senate on a near unanimous vote this week would require insurance companies to charge the same for chemotherapy whether it’s delivered intravenously or in pill form. It had strong backing from hospitals and the American Cancer Society, which urged the Assembly to pass it without any changes.

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Republican leaders in the Assembly instead proposed an amendment that would allow insurers to charge copays of up to $100 a month for chemotherapy pills. Even though the measure was scaled back from the Senate version, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Wisconsin Chair Paul Westrick called it a win for cancer patients.

“This is a great day,” said Westrick. “The amendment – whatever it took to get it through – is really worthwhile. We think it’s fair that the $100 monthly cap on copays is still a great victory for cancer patients.”

While the proposal will likely clear the state Assembly on Thursday, the change still needs the Senate’s approval before the Legislature adjourns in a couple weeks. The Senate passed this bill 30-2 on Tuesday, and Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, who authored the bill, said she didn’t want it amended.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald’s office did not immediately respond to a question about where his members stand on the Assembly’s version of the bill. Gov. Scott Walker’s office said Walker would sign it.

The oral chemotherapy bill is one of many on a lengthy Assembly calendar on Thursday. Debate is expected to last well into the evening and possibly into the morning.