More than one-and-a-half million people were diagnosed with cancer last year even as a promising number of treatments are emerging to help combat the growing epidemic, according to a new cancer report released last week by the American Society of Clinical Oncology
However, access to treatment is being hampered by barriers to insurance coverage for those procedures, and a significant number of people find their insurance does not cover promising treatments at all. Cancer treatment centers are spending an increasing amount of time fighting insurance companies to receive coverage for their patients, and preauthorization requirements have been found to “increase demands on staff time, delay or interrupt patient care, decrease patient satisfaction, and complicate medical decision making,” according to the report.
Proton therapy is a clinically-proven, FDA-approved form of cancer treatment that is not an option for many patients because most private insurers do not provide reimbursement. New methods of delivering this special form of radiation therapy mean that, for most patients, proton therapy does not cost more than traditional radiation treatment. Because of the technology’s ability to direct radiation—in the form of protons—to the exact location of the tumor, treatment can be more effective, and patients experience many fewer side effects.
A bill making its way through the Tennessee Assembly gives doctors and patients the freedom to choose the best cancer regimen, including proton therapy. Today, patients who are not covered by Medicare or are not children are typically excluded.
We’re asking Tennesseans to take action to make proton therapy available to more cancer patients. Please contact your representative or senator this week to tell them to support the Cancer Patient Choice Act. See the Tennessee Cancer Patient Coalition website.
Please urge Tennessee lawmakers to make the right choice for cancer patients. Lives are at stake.