The N.C. House voted 90-22 Monday evening to make insurance companies cover oral chemotherapy the same way they cover chemo treatments using IV or injectable drugs.
House Bill 206, titled “Cancer Treatment Fairness,” affects insurance plans that cover both types of chemotherapy treatments but have higher patient costs for drugs taken by mouth. It does not impact insurance plans that don’t already cover the treatments.
“There is no reason a person should be required to take an IV drug over a more effective oral drug,” said Rep. David Lewis, a Dunn Republican and sponsor of the bill. He said patients shouldn’t be forced to spend time in a medical facility taking IV drugs “simply to comply with bureaucratic rules.”
But some legislators objected to the bill, arguing that the requirement would drive up healthcare costs by forcing insurers to cover more expensive treatment options.
“We’re once again picking on small businesses and making their insurance premiums go up,” said Rep. Jeff Collins, a Rocky Mount Republican. “This is a drug manufacturer’s bill, and I’m going to be voting no.”
Similar bills have passed the House in previous years but didn’t get traction in the Senate. The bill now goes to the Senate, and it’s unclear if it will have the support to move forward this time.