The state Senate has passed a bill designed to lower the costs of oral chemotherapy treatment for Wisconsin cancer patients. Opponents argued the bill, which the Assembly amended to cap co-pays at $100 a month, leaves too many loopholes for insurance companies to exploit and charge more.
“You can’t put more than one chemo in a single pill,” said Senator Tim Cullen. The Janesville Democrat is a cancer survivor with a background in the insurance industry. “So if a doctor orders two or three different chemos, that’s two or three different prescriptions. Each prescription, under this legislation, is a separate $100.”
The bill passed 26-7, with moderate Republican Dale Schultz among the no votes. “It’s not real, it’s not fair, it would be like bait and switch,” said Schultz. The bill’s author, Republican Senator Alberta Darling, attempted to give assurances that the $100 co-pay will mean something.
“The commissioner of insurance says the co-payment is limited to $100 for thirty days supply, and he also says it’s parity, oral chemo and intravenous,” Darling said. “So I am assured we’re going to be able to hold the commissioner’s feet to the fire. All of you have this document in writing. You know that means a lot.”
“All the insurance commissioner can do . . . is write a letter to an insurance company saying ‘please don’t use the loophole that was included in the Assembly amendment,” said Senator Jon Erpenbach, a Dane County Democrat, adding that’s unlikely to happen.
The bill now goes to Governor Scott Walker for his signature.