Improving Tomorrows for Cancer Patients
By Rep. Kerry Benninghoff (R-Centre/Mifflin)

What do you plan to do tomorrow?

For most of us, this is a simple question, which is usually accompanied by a simple answer. It brings to mind thoughts of work or family and another 24 hours of normal living.

With September marking Childhood Cancer Awareness Month in Pennsylvania, I ask everyone to consider this question from another perspective. For cancer patients on traditional intravenous chemotherapy, the answer about their plans for tomorrow can be accompanied by dread.

IV chemotherapy can be a life-saving treatment for people suffering from cancer. However, it also is often accompanied by terrible side effects. Patients often cringe at the thought of undergoing the treatments.

Modern medicine thankfully continues to make progress on this front. New pills are available as a possible alternative to traditional IV chemotherapy care. Unfortunately, the business and bureaucratic sides of our health care system do not always keep up with or gently accommodate the treatment side of the industry. Allow me to explain.

Traditional IV chemotherapy is usually considered a medical treatment and patients are responsible for co-payments, just like when they visit a doctor’s office.

The new pills that serve as an alternative to traditional chemotherapy treatments are considered a medication and are therefore covered on a patient’s prescription benefit plan.

As anyone who has taken a sick child to a doctor realizes, the cost associated with paying for medications can often double, triple or even quadruple the cost of the office visit.

In this case, with pills that serve as alternatives to traditional chemotherapy, we are talking about advanced – and usually expensive – medications.

That is why I am co-sponsoring legislation in the state House that would prohibit insurance policies from placing oral anti-cancer medications on a specialty tier or charging a coinsurance payment for the medication. This bill would help cancer patients afford a more convenient form of treatment.

Providing patients with the opportunity to take these pills, instead of hooking them up to an IV chemotherapy treatment system, could drastically improve their quality of life.

When asked what they plan to do tomorrow, they could answer, “I’m going to work,” or “I’m taking my kids to soccer practices,” instead of “I’m spending my day hooked up to an IV treatment system.”

With enhanced access to anti-cancer pills, we can improve the tomorrows of cancer patients.

Representative Kerry Benninghoff
171st District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Dan Massing
717.772.9845 /
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