Capitol Report – Cancer: The new political game in Wisconsin

By State Representative, Leon D. Young

Leon D. Young

Leon D. Young

What a difference a week makes. It was just a little over week ago that the oral chemotherapy bill seemed doomed for passage this legislative session.

Several key GOP leaders, in both houses of the state Legislature, were firmly resistance to this vital piece of legislation.

It must be noted that the oral chemotherapy bill is not some farfetched, way-out democratic proposal.

Rather, the bill represents sound and compassionate public policy that would be of great benefit to countless residents of our state.

Who among has not been touched by the scourge of cancer in some form or fashion?

All too often, individuals stricken with this dreadful affliction must make a choice: whether to buy their life-sustaining oral chemo medication or forgo buying other equally important essentials, such as food. This, in my view, is no real choice at all; and, more importantly, no one should be forced to make this awful decision.

The oral chemotherapy bill is intended to address this blatant unfairness in terms of how cancer patients are treated.

Why shouldn’t health insurance plans be required to provide the same coverage for expensive chemotherapy drugs taken as pills as they do for the likewise expensive chemotherapy medication administered through IVs at hospitals and clinics?

One can argue that the Assembly’s compromise language, which imposes a $100 cap for a one month supply for oral chemotherapy pills, is a step in the right direction for patients struggling to afford their oral medication.

After considerable clamoring by the public at-large and realizing that they were politically vulnerable on this issue, the GOP leadership in the Assembly reluctantly changed course and offered its eleventh-hour compromise amendment.

This ultimately begs the question: Why are Republicans playing political games with the lives of cancer patients in the first place?

I think we all know the answer: The GOP is firmly in the pocket of the insurance industry and the oral chemotherapy bill provides yet another example of the collusive nature that exists between the two.