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Nevada Assembly overwhelmingly OKs oral chemo cancer insurance bill

CARSON CITY — A bill that would require insurance companies that provide cancer coverage to pay a bigger share of the cost of new oral chemotherapy medications passed the Assembly with a unanimous vote Tuesday.

Changes made to Senate Bill 266 in the Assembly will have to be agreed to by the Senate before the bill can go to Gov. Brian Sandoval for his consideration.

The bill was sponsored by Sen. Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas, who said it would let cancer patients seek out the most effective treatment to fight the disease without having to first consider the costs of the chemo drugs.

Most health insurance policies cover traditional intravenous chemotherapy treatments as medical procedures that are fully covered once a patient’s out-of-pocket maximum has been reached. But health plans typically cover only a small percentage of ongoing oral prescription drug costs, requiring large out-of-pocket costs by patients.

The drugs can cost patients as much as $2,000 to $10,000 a month.

The bill attempts to create parity between the two types of treatments and would set a $100-per-month co-pay maximum for the chemo drugs.

If signed into law, the changes would take effect on Jan. 1, 2015.

Contact Capital Bureau reporter Sean Whaley at swhaley@reviewjournal.com or 775-687-3900,

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