House Panel Kills Insurance Mandate for Oral Chemotherapy

By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A House panel on Tuesday killed a bill seeking to require insurance companies to cover oral chemotherapy treatments.
The House Commerce Committee voted 19-9 to send the measure to a study committee after the Legislature adjourns for the year.
Rep. Steve McManus, R-Cordova and the committee’s chairman, said a series of closed-door meetings with supporters and opponents of the legislation indicated to him that a compromise wasn’t likely.
“There’s still an awful lot of questions that need to be answered,” McManus said.
Republican Rep. Curry Todd of Collierville, who disclosed last week that he had been diagnosed with a form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, noted that none of the committee members supportive of the legislation were invited to the meetings.

The bill sponsored by Republican Rep. Glen Casada of Franklin would require any insurer providing coverage for intravenous chemotherapy to extend the same benefits for oral treatments.
The measure was opposed by Gov. Bill Haslam and the insurance industry on the basis that it would create a government mandate.
“There’s a real philosophical difference out there, and we’re trying to work this out in any way we possibly can — and we have a couple of lobbyists shaking their heads,” McManus said, referring to members of the audience.
Supporters noted that more than a dozen other states have passed similar measures without opposition from the industry.
Republican Rep. Jon Lundberg of Bristol made the motion to send the bill for further study.
“The intent is not to kill this legislation; it is truly to study it,” he said.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers tried to fight the effort to put off the bill they say would pave the way for more manageable cancer treatments.
“We need to do something different and try to do something for the people who are needing this particular service,” said Democratic Rep. Joe Towns of Memphis.
Lundberg said there are still a number of unanswered questions about cost, coverage and treatment requirements envisioned by the bill.
“There are so many questions in here that need to be answered in detail,” he said.
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