State Representative Jay Hottinger
71st House District
United States citizens have about a 33-percent chance of developing invasive cancer throughout their lifetime, according to 2010 research by the American Cancer Society. In Ohio, lung-related cancers share the highest mortality rates among both men and women, claiming one-third of males and 26 percent of females.
Thanks to continuous research and improved treatments, mortality rates for all cancers combined have declined in Ohio over the past two decades. However, the commitment to providing the best treatment for cancer patients will always remain a top priority.
Legislation that recently passed the Ohio Senate will help cancer patients make decisions about their treatment based on what is best for their health, rather than solely on what they can afford. Senate Bill 99 would add Ohio to a list of 27 other states to pass what is called an “oral equity” policy.
In essence, this policy puts cancer treatments that are taken orally on the same playing field as cancer treatments that are injected in a vein. However, cancer drugs injected into a vein are covered under most health insurance plans, whereas oral drugs are included as a pharmacy benefit, which are much more expensive. This results in patients paying thousands more dollars every month in co-payments to afford the oral drug.
There are several health benefits to taking cancer-fighting drugs by mouth, including the fact that they typically target cancer cells more directly and have fewer side effects. It makes sense that oral treatments, which share the same goals but often with better results, are classified equally as intravenous drugs.
Throughout the course of several committee hearings and substantial consideration, the bill has earned the support of a dozen Ohio hospitals, including the Cleveland Clinic, as well as the American Cancer Society. Specialists from the James Cancer Hospital here in Columbus offered their support for the legislation.
They pointed out that, under the current format, patients often have to be in a hospital six to eight hours a day to receive IV treatments, whereas taking the drugs orally will save time of both the patients and medical staff at the hospital. As one pointed out, 30 percent of newly developed treatments are oral drugs, which have proven to be more effective. Despite all of this, it is still difficult for patients to have access to these drugs simply because most traditional medical plans do not cover them.
With the expansion of technology showing no sign of slowing down, I expect oral cancer treatments to become more popular in the years ahead and that the results will continue to improve. This bill provides our state a great opportunity to stand up for patients and expanding choice for them and their families.
Rep. Hottinger may be reached by calling (614)466-1482, emailing Rep71@ohiohouse.gov, or writing to
State Representative Jay Hottinger, 77 South High Street, Columbus, Ohio 43215.