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While federal law requires Medicare and private payers to cover the costs patients with cancer incur when participating in clinical trials, more than 42 million Medicaid enrollees—20 percent of the United States population—remain without such coverage. This coverage gap can have very real consequences for patients with cancer, as clinical trials not only produce essential research, but are also often the best clinical option for patients with difficult-to-treat cancers.
In January 2019, legislation that would guarantee access to clinical trials for Medicaid enrollees with life-threatening conditions was introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives as H.R. 913, the CLINICAL TREATMENT Act. This spring, during ACCC Capitol Hill Day, ACCC members participated in 71 meetings with congressional offices to urge support for H.R. 913 and to bring lawmakers’ attention the specific plight of Medicaid patients with cancer who may suffer from lack of access to clinical trials.
ACCC members reminded their representatives in Congress that since Medicaid insures nearly one-fifth of the U.S. population, its exemption from clinical trial coverage leaves an estimated 42.2 million people without access to what could be life-saving treatments. In a world in which innovation in cancer care is bringing so much promise and hope to the oncology community, access to clinical trials has been vital to millions of individuals in the United States.
On July 10, ACCC will join the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and more than 80 other organizations that represent patients, providers, medical researchers, survivors, and their families in a Day of Action to support passage of the CLINICAL TREATMENT Act. ACCC has composed an issue brief on the legislation that includes talking points about why Medicaid coverage for clinical trials is essential for both treatment and potentially life-saving research.