Plattsburgh New York State Assemblymember Janet Duprey met recently with cancer survivors, a representative from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS), and care givers from the Fitzpatrick Cancer Center to discuss upcoming legislation.
The issue before the group is a bill, currently stuck in committee in the state legislature, which would regulate insurance companies in their use of “step therapy” and “first fail” requirements. With both step therapy and first fail, insurance companies are able to overrule a doctor’s prescription, and mandate that a patient try and fail on a less expensive medication before they will cover a more expensive medication.
One leukemia survivor, who volunteers for the LLS contacting newly diagnosed leukemia patients, recounted a story of a patient who died within three weeks as a result of being put on a less effective medication because of the cost.
“There’s a huge burden with all these medications,” said Stacey LaFave, a social worker with the Fitzpatrick Cancer Center. “This is just one more burden.”
Duprey agreed to co-sponsor the bill, S.2711/A.5214, and to help to get it out of committee and onto the floor for a vote. Duprey commented that the bill has been in committee for two years already.
“I’m hoping we can get some momentum to get this through,” Duprey said.
The LLS operates 61 chapters nationwide. The Upstate New York/Vermont chapter covers the New York counties of Albany, Clinton, Columbia, Delaware, Dutchess, Essex, Franklin, Fulton, Greene, Hamilton, Montgomery, Otsego, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady, Schoharie, Sullivan, Ulster, Warren, Washington, plus the entire state of Vermont. They operate patient/caregiver support groups and patient/professional education seminars throughout the chapter, including at Plattsburgh’s Fitzpatrick Cancer Center.
They are also active in pursuing legislation to improve the lives of blood cancer patients and survivors.
The LLS can be reached at www.lls.org.