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Florida lawmakers pitch bills to save breast cancer patients time and money

'This is something we have to do better at'
Posted at 5:54 PM, Oct 16, 2019

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Saving lives and money, lawmakers say that’s the goal of two bills looking to help Florida breast cancer patients.

Democrats pushed for approval of the legislation during a news conference in the capitol, Wednesday.

The first bill (SB 416) would cap high copay insurance costs for patients getting diagnostic tests after an initial mammogram.

“The high cost can result in individuals delaying or even canceling potentially lifesaving diagnostic treatment,” said Sen. Lori Berman (D-Boynton Beach). “This bill ensures that any follow up testing be done at a rate no higher than a mammogram,”

Sen. Berman, who is sponsoring the bill, called on lawmakers to quickly approve it in the upcoming session. A breast cancer survivor herself, she said the legislation had special significance.

“I want to ensure all Floridians have the save life-saving access to care my grandmother and I had,” Berman said. “Passing this bill… will advance this goal.”

The second bill (HB 261) would give patients quicker access to the latest metastatic cancer treatments. No longer would they be required to try older treatments first, what some call “fail-first” therapy.

“Insurance companies are forcing them to try older, less expensive therapies for months before covering pricey ones,” said that bill’s sponsor, Rep. Kamia Brown (D-Ocoee). “This is something we have to do better at.”

Sen. Berman believed there was enough bipartisan support to get both bills through the House and Senate. Each has made it through the first hurdle, getting assigned to committees.