UPDATE: Walker signs oral chemotherapy drugs bill

UPDATED Thursday, April 3, 2014 --- 2:17 p.m.

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Gov. Scott Walker has signed a bill into law that is designed to lower the cost of chemotherapy drugs in pill form for cancer patients.

Walker signed the measure Thursday at the Froedtert and Medical College of Wisconsin Clinical Cancer Center.

The Republican-sponsored bill passed the Legislature with bipartisan support, after initially being kept from a vote by Republican leaders.

The new law requires health insurers to charge the same price for chemotherapy pills, which can be taken at home, as for intravenous treatments, which are administered at hospitals.

Supporters say the proposal will help more patients afford a more convenient form of treatment.

The new law will take effect in January.

Copyright Associated Press 2014

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UPDATED Thursday, April 3, 2014 --- 10:06 a.m.

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Gov. Scott Walker plans to sign the bill designed to lower the cost of chemotherapy drugs in pill form at a hospital in Milwaukee.

Walker was scheduled to sign the bill Thursday at the Froedtert and Medical College of Wisconsin Clinical Cancer Center.

The measure passed the Legislature with bipartisan support, after initially being kept from a vote by Republican leaders. Ultimately the bill passed with broad bipartisan support.

The bill Walker is signing requires health insurers to charge the same price for chemotherapy pills, which can be taken at home, as for intravenous treatments, which are administered at hospitals.

Supporters say the proposal will help more patients afford a more convenient form of treatment.

Copyright Associated Press 2014

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UPDATED Tuesday, April 1, 2014 --- 8:36 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Chemotherapy drugs in pill form would be more affordable for cancer patients under a bill that has cleared the Wisconsin Legislature.

Gov. Scott Walker has said he will sign the bill the Senate passed Tuesday on a bipartisan 26-7 vote.

Republican legislative leaders initially bottled up the bill, which the insurance industry opposed. But the Legislature ultimately acted following public pressure and addition of an amendment to cap patient copays at $100 a month.

But Democrats say the bill has loopholes that could lead to insurance companies charging even more.

Oral chemotherapy can cost thousands of dollars a month, while intravenous treatments often cost only a $20 copayment under a patient's insurance policy.

The bill would require insurance companies to treat chemotherapy pills the same as IV treatment.

Copyright Associated Press 2014

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UPDATED Tuesday, April 1, 2014 --- 9:40 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A bill designed to make chemotherapy drugs in pill form more affordable for cancer patients is one of the last proposals up for a vote in the state Senate this year.

The bill is among more than 50 the Senate is scheduled to pass on Tuesday before adjourning to begin the campaign season in earnest.

The measure would require health insurers to charge the same price for chemotherapy pills, which can be taken at home, as they charge for intravenous treatments that are administered at hospitals.

The Assembly passed the bill last month and once it clears the Senate as expected it heads to Gov. Scott Walker, who has said he will sign it.

Copyright Associated Press 2014

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UPDATED Monday, March 24, 2014 --- 12:49 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The Wisconsin state Senate plans to vote next week on a bill designed to make chemotherapy drugs that can be taken at home in pill form more affordable.

A spokeswoman for Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said Monday that based on the broad bipartisan support the bill received Friday in the Assembly, it will be up for a vote without further changes on April 1. That is the Senate's last day in session for the year.

The Assembly passed the bill after including a $100 co-payment cap. That was not a part of the bill when the Senate approved it last week, requiring another vote.

Gov. Scott Walker has said he will sign the bill once it passes the Legislature.

Copyright Associated Press 2014

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UPDATED Friday, March 21, 2014 --- 11:42 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Gov. Scott Walker's spokeswoman says he will sign the latest version of a bill that would help cancer patients purchase chemotherapy pills, but it's still unclear if the proposal will clear the Senate.

The bill would require health insurance companies to charge the same for the pills, which can be taken at home but cost thousands of dollars a month, as they do for intravenous treatments.

The Senate passed the measure overwhelmingly earlier this week. The Assembly amended it early Friday morning, however, to cap co-pays at $100. The bill now must clear the Senate again. The chamber has one session day left this year.

A spokeswoman for Senate Majority Scott Fitzgerald says Fitzgerald was still reviewing the amendment Friday morning.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

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UPDATED Friday, March 21, 2014 --- 5:50 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The state Assembly has sent a bill designed to make chemotherapy drugs more affordable for cancer patients back to the state Senate where a previous version passed overwhelmingly earlier this week.

The Assembly changed the bill to include a $100 monthly copay cap for cancer patients buying chemotherapy drugs in pill form. Democrats objected to that change, saying it needlessly puts the bill at risk of passing the Senate, which is also controlled by Republicans.

But Republicans say the bill will get a Senate vote and become law.

Gov. Scott Walker has said he would sign the bill in either form.

The vote Friday to pass it was 75-18. Fifty one Republicans and 24 Democrats voted yes, while five Republicans and 13 Democrats voted no.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

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UPDATED Thursday, March 20, 2014 --- 3:14 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Gov. Scott Walker's spokeswoman says he would sign a bill requiring recipients of oral chemotherapy to make a $100 monthly co-pay for the drugs.

The Assembly on Thursday was to vote on making that change to the bill. Walker had said Wednesday that he didn't want the Assembly to make any changes to the bill as it passed the Senate earlier this week.

But Assembly Speaker Robin Vos announced before debate began that the co-pay would be proposed before a vote on passing the bill is taken. Cancer support advocates appeared with Vos to endorse the proposed change.

Walker spokeswoman Laurel Patrick says if the bill reaches the governor, he will sign it.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

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UPDATED Thursday, March 20, 2014 --- 2:02 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos says a deal has been reached that will lead to passage of a bill that makes more affordable chemotherapy drugs in pill form available to cancer patients.

Vos and advocates who have been pushing for the bill appeared together at a news conference to announce the deal before the Assembly was to vote on the bill later Thursday.

Vos says he believes the Senate will sign off on the changes and Gov. Scott Walker will sign it into law.

The main change the Assembly plans to make would require patients to pay $100 a month in co-pay for the drugs.

Cancer victim advocate Paul Westrich says he believes that is fair and it is a good bill.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

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UPDATED Thursday, March 20, 2014 --- 10:58 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The fate of a bill that would make chemotherapy pills more affordable rests with the Wisconsin state Assembly.

The bill easily passed the Senate earlier this week and Gov. Scott Walker has said he would sign that version into law.

But Assembly Republicans are mulling changes to the measure before voting Thursday, which could put the bill at risk. Thursday is the Assembly's last planned session day and the bill must pass both chambers in the same form.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos' spokeswoman says the bill's chief sponsor, Majority Leader Pat Strachota, has crafted an amendment to the measure. Strachota's spokesman didn't immediately return a message.

The bill's supporters contend if Republicans change the measure that is their way of killing the proposal because the Senate may not go along.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

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UPDATED Thursday, March 20, 2014 --- 9:52 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The fate of a bill that would make chemotherapy drugs in pill form more affordable for cancer patients rests with the Wisconsin state Assembly.

The bill easily passed the Senate earlier this week on a 30-2 vote and Gov. Scott Walker has said he would sign that version into law.

But Assembly Republicans are talking about making changes before voting on the bill Thursday, which could put it at risk. Thursday is the Assembly's last planned day in session and the bill must pass both chambers in the same form.

Democratic supporters of the bill have said if Republicans change it that is their way of killing the proposal because the Senate may not go along with the changes.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

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UPDATED Wednesday, March 19, 2014 --- 10:15 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Gov. Scott Walker says he would sign into law a bill passed by the state Senate and pending approval in the Assembly that would make chemotherapy drugs in pill form more affordable for cancer patients.

Walker made his comments to reporters Wednesday in Appleton.

Walker says he would sign the bill that passed the Senate. He says, "I'm hopeful that's the bill that will pass the Assembly."

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos on Tuesday said the Assembly would consider making changes to the proposal before voting on whether to pass it on Thursday, something Walker said he didn't want to see happen.

Democrats and other advocates also were pushing for the Assembly to pass the bill in the same form as it cleared the Senate on a 30-2 vote.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

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UPDATED Tuesday, March 18, 2014 --- 6:10 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos says the Assembly will vote Thursday on a bill that would give cancer patients access to less expensive chemotherapy drugs in pill form.

However, Vos said Tuesday that the Assembly is considering making changes to the proposal from the way it passed the Senate on a 30-2 vote earlier in the day.

Democratic backers say that Vos was playing politics by altering the bill in way that may result in it not getting approval in the Senate before the session ends for the year.

The Assembly's last day in session is Thursday.

Democratic Sen. Jon Erpenbach says the bill doesn't need to be changed and if the Assembly does alter it "they're just playing games."

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

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UPDATED Tuesday, March 18, 2014 --- 1:11 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The Wisconsin state Senate has passed a bill that would make more affordable chemotherapy drugs in pill form available to cancer patients.

The bill now heads to the Assembly, where it has been blocked by Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos. Vos says his members will discuss the issue privately Thursday.

The bill had been blocked in the Senate until Republican Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald allowed it to move forward Tuesday.

The bill passed on 30-2 vote. Republican Sens. Paul Farrow and Leah Vukmir voted no.

A broad array of cancer support and health advocacy groups support the measure as a means to make expensive chemotherapy in pill form available to more people. Opponents, including health insurers, fear it will drive up costs and amounts to a legislative mandate.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

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UPDATED Tuesday, March 18, 2014 --- 10:51 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The Wisconsin state Senate will vote on a bill to make more affordable chemotherapy drugs available to cancer patients after it had been blocked last week.

A spokesman for the bill's sponsor, Republican Sen. Alberta Darling, says the bill will be voted on Tuesday.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald last week used a procedural move to block such a vote. The decision to go forward with the vote came after a private discussion among Republican senators Tuesday morning.

Democrats, cancer patients and other advocates have been trying to keep the pressure on the Legislature to act before lawmakers wrap up their work for the year.

Assembly Republicans are also meeting in private Tuesday to talk about the bill.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

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UPDATED Tuesday, March 18, 2014 --- 9:52 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Wisconsin Democrats are trying to keep the pressure on Republican legislative leaders who are blocking a vote on a bill that would make cancer drugs more affordable.

Republican Senate and Assembly leaders are using procedural moves to block a vote on the bill, even though it is sponsored by Republicans and appears to have the support of a majority of lawmakers.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos have both cited concerns of some opponents that the measure is a mandate on insurance companies. The bill would require health plans to provide the same coverage for chemotherapy drugs taken in pill form as less expensive treatment through IVs.

Senate Democrats planned to submit a letter Tuesday urging a vote. Senate Republicans also planned to discuss it privately.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

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UPDATED Monday, March 17, 2014 --- 11:55 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Supporters of a bill that would make cancer drugs more affordable in Wisconsin are not giving up hope that the measure can still pass the Legislature this year.

The proposal would require insurance plans overseen by the state to provide coverage for expensive forms of chemotherapy drugs that patients take as pills rather than injections.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald has refused to allow the bill to come up for a vote, even though a majority of senators support it. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos has also voiced opposition to the measure.

Paul Westrick, board chair for Wisconsin chapter of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, says it will take public pressure to get Republican legislative leaders to schedule the bill for a vote.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

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Posted Wednesday, March 12, 2014 --- 12:53 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald says there are enough votes to pass a bipartisan bill that would make cancer drugs more affordable, but he won't allow it to come up because a majority of Republicans don't support it.

Fitzgerald commented Wednesday when asked about an unusual procedural move that prevents anyone from attempting to force a vote on the measure.

Fitzgerald says there are a majority of votes in the Senate for the Republican-sponsored bill. But he says a majority of Republicans don't back it, so work will continue behind the scenes to reach a deal.

The bill would require insurance plans overseen by the state to provide coverage for expensive forms of chemotherapy drugs that patients take as pills rather than injections.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press


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